Els has the wood over Tiger for a change

Ernie Els has won a rare victory against his golfing rival, Tiger Woods, in Dubai.

Ernie Els has won a rare victory against his golfing rival, Tiger Woods, in Dubai. The first luxury villas around Els's golf course in the Dubailand development have been handed over and are being occupied, while Woods's project is still beset by problems. Both golfers are involved with rival courses in the development, which is located in the desert hinterland of Dubai. The 18-hole Ernie Els course, located in Dubai's Sport City, was opened to the public in January 2008. But the Tiger Woods project, which began construction in 2007, has been troubled by delays and cost overruns.

The setbacks to Woods's course are a further disappointment to the world's number one golfer, who has come under close public scrutiny in recent months following revelations that he was involved in a series of extramarital affairs. A total of 305 villas has been completed within the 961-villa Victory Heights development that surrounds the Els-designed course. About 720 of the villas have been sold, its developer said.

"The Els golf course has been operating since 2008," said Talal Chihabi, a spokesman for the development. "We have already around 200 families living in these villas as we speak today, and more of them are coming within the coming few weeks. Els, who finished 11th in last year's European Order of Merit, stayed in one of the villas while competing at the Dubai World Championship last November. Progress has been slower at the nearby Tiger Woods Dubai, which is being built by Tatweer, the developer of Dubailand and a unit of the Dubai Holding conglomerate.

The golf course should have been opened in September last year, but has faced construction delays. The residential component of the project that includes 100 luxury villas, 75 mansions and 22 buildings being marketed as "palaces" is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year. Woods said last June that work had been suspended because of the economic downturn. Woods's personal problems were unlikely to affect the sales appeal of his branded villas in Dubai, said Charles Neil, the chief executive of Landmark Properties, a property broker.