DUBAI // Whether it was sarcasm or merely an urge to keep it succinct, Tiger Woods was in no mood to elaborate.
The world No 1 has carved arguably the most successful career in golf by his diligent dismantling of par-5s across the globe, but when quizzed on Saturday at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic why the long holes have quickly become Superman’s kryptonite, Woods provided a pretty curt response.
“Playing bad,” he replied.
Asked to add a little more context, the answer was short, but not so sweet.
“Not playing well. Does that help you out?”
The par-5 problem may not be authentic Woods, yet the answer was classic Tiger. The 14-time major winner is a master at not giving too much away, although that is precisely what he attributed a rather profligate third-round 70 to.
“Wasted a lot of opportunities out there,” said Woods after increasing his tournament total to a modest five-under par. “I hit a couple of bad shots, missed a ton of putts – just threw away a lot of shots.”
Just like at the Famers Insurance Open last week, Woods has wilted on the lengthiest holes at Emirates Golf Club. In his past nine par-5s around the Majlis Course, he has recorded just two birdies, while on Saturday he even bogeyed the 568-yard third.
Typically, though, Woods chose to accentuate the positives.
“I smoked it today,” he said. “Did a little bit of a fix last night and felt like it was good. Feels very comfortable flighting the ball.”
The “fix” focused on correcting his grip slightly, a process Woods described as relatively straightforward. If his customary command of par-5s is being confined to memory, temporarily at least, the American has reverted to type in another sense.
“It’s just one of my old habits,” he said of the grip issue. “Getting back into the old pattern. Just got to make sure I stay away from it, because it’s not good.”
For now, Woods is prepared to take the rough with the smooth. He revealed Friday that the clubs were put away for much of the off-season, and acknowledged the 54-hole missed cut at Torrey Pines – his first competitive outing in 2014 – may have been a consequence.
Instead of concentrating on sharpening his game in the new year, Woods spent the time getting in shape instead. Effectively, the tone-up prevented an extensive tune-up.
“I’m pleased because it’s progressing, slowly,” he said. “Unfortunately I’d like to have it come a little quicker, but I’m going to have some ups and downs. I’m going to have some bumps on the road.”
He is used to flatter tracks. Woods is credited with changing the landscape of golf in many ways, but perhaps one of the most prominent is proving the cataylst for peers to alter their approach to the profession. Thanks largely to Woods, these days players realise there is no point having the technique without the physique.
“Most golfers have been fat and out of shape, and they don’t treat it as a sport,” he said. “I grew up running track and cross-country and playing baseball, and if you didn’t train you got your butt kicked.
“That’s a big difference, growing up with other sporting backgrounds where you train in order to compete and win. I just took the same philosophy and applied it to golf. I’ve had a pretty good career so far.”