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Watson tells Tiger to clean up his act on and off course

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Tom Watson gets tough on Tiger
  • Golf legend Tom Watson says Tiger Woods needs to clean up his act
  • Watson compares Woods unfavorably with other greats such as Jack Nicklaus
  • Watson is making a guest appearance at this week's Dubai Desert Classic
  • Rory McIlroy defends his title which boasts a first prize of $416,000

(CNN) -- Golf legend Tom Watson says Tiger Woods needs to "clean up his act" and show some humility in public when he returns to the circuit after sorting out his tangled personal life.

World number one Woods is taking an "indefinite break" from the circuit after a car crash outside his Florida home on November 27 led to revelations about a string of extramarital affairs.

Elder statesman Watson, who came close to winning last year's British Open at Turrnberry, aired candid views on Woods as he prepared to tee up in this week's Dubai Desert Classic.

"Tiger has to take ownership of what he has done," said the 60-year-old.

"He must get his personal life in order. I think that's what he's trying to do. And when he comes back he has to show some humility to the public," he added.

Tiger has to take ownership of what he has done
--Tom Watson
  • Tiger Woods
  • Tom Watson

"I would come out and I would do an interview with somebody and say, `You know what? I screwed up. And I admit it. I am going to try to change. I am trying to change. I want my wife and family back."

Watson, who dueled with fellow legend Jack Nicklaus at the peak of his career, also criticized Woods for his behavior on the course, upbraiding him for bad language and angry outbursts.

"I feel that he has not carried the same stature that other great players that have come along like Jack (Nicklaus), Arnold (Palmer), Byron Nelson, the Hogans, in the sense that there was language and club throwing on the golf course,"

Watson went on: "I think he needs to clean up his act and show the respect for the game that other people before him have shown."

Woods, who has not made a public appearance since the media storm which engulfed him at the end of 2009, has lost a string of endorsements since he admitted to "transgressions" in his personal life.

The 14-time major winner has also been a regular at the prestigious tournament in Dubai, which completes the "Gulf swing" on the European Tour.

In his absence, Watson is the star attraction after his heroics at Turnberry which saw him beaten in a playoff by fellow American Stewart Cink.

Watson, who has already won the Seniors Tour this year, has played down his chances of victory but has been impressed by the condition of the Emirates course.

"The rough is very tough," he said. "It is very tough to get the ball on the green from the rough. You have probably only got a one-in-seven or one-in-eight chance to get the green if you drive into the rough."

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy defends the title where he made his big breakthrough last year, with European number one Lee Westwood and Sweden's Henrik Stenson also among the favorites for the $416,000 first prize.