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Competitive fire will burn until grave, says O'Meara, 55

DUBAI (Reuters) - Twice major champion Mark O'Meara said his will to win was as strong as ever after the 55-year-old American announced he would compete at this month's Dubai Desert Classic.

O'Meara beat close friend and 14-times major winner Tiger Woods in 2004 to lift the Dubai title at the age of 47, becoming the oldest champion of the long-running Middle East event which has been a feature of the European Tour since 1989.

Now plying his trade among the seniors on the U.S. Champions Tour, the 1998 U.S. Masters and British Open winner believes he can still hold his own among the youngsters.

"As far as being competitive, that never changes. And it won't until they put me in the grave," O'Meara said in a news release on Thursday.

"My health is good. My family is great. I'm blessed to have played this game for a long time and I'm still playing," added the 16-times PGA Tour winner who is the oldest player to claim two majors in a season.

"I've only won twice since joining the Champions Tour in 2007 but I've had about 13 seconds so I know how tough it is to win. I don't like finishing second to be honest with you."

The Dubai Classic, the third and final leg of the European Tour's 'Desert Swing' that also includes next week's Abu Dhabi Championship and the Qatar Masters, starts on January 31.

(Writing by Tom Pilcher in London; editing by Tony Jimenez)

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