x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Woods’ strong start and finish not enough at Dubai Desert Classic

World No 1 sprung out of the blocks Thursday then played his next 60 holes in a largely forgettable one-over par and, coupled with the fast finish, eventually tallied at six-under overall, reports John McAuley.

Tiger Woods follows his ball after he tees off at the 14th hole during the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday. AP Photo
Tiger Woods follows his ball after he tees off at the 14th hole during the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday. AP Photo

DUBAI // Not that his tournament total suggested it, but Tiger Woods was surprisingly upbeat when walking away from Emirates Golf Club on Sunday.

Three straight birdies to conclude a week’s work would do that to a guy, yet it kind of threw a blanket over what had preceded it.

In fact, Woods had sprung out of the blocks way back Thursday, when he plundered his front nine for four birdies.

He then played his next 60 holes in a largely forgettable one-over par and, coupled with the fast finish, eventually tallied at six-under overall.

Just omit from memory that turgid trunk to his time at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, and hope springs eternal. Or to use a more befitting cliché on the tournament’s 25th anniversary, every cloud ...

“Piped it all day,” said Woods. “Driving was something I didn’t really do well [at Torrey Pines] last week, so this weekend it was nice to build, to start piping it again and get it out there with the big boys.”

Woods used to be the big boy. The galleries that stalked the 14-time major champion throughout his final round reinforced he remains golf’s star attraction – Fred Couples even joined the throng late on – but the leaderboard offered a more pertinent appraisal of his present playing status.

Yesterday’s toil took place on the greens, where Woods shaved so many cups that he may have thought his putter crocked. It got so bad that he and his caddie, Joe LaCava, started calculating near misses instead of yardages.

“Counted up the lip-outs and had seven.” Woods said. “That’s quite a few. I just couldn’t make anything.”

Woods put the profligacy down to struggles with speed, which he measured at just a fraction off. He preferred to put the brakes on any deep post-round analysis, though.

“Nothing you can do about it,” he said. “Week’s already over and we’ll get ready for a new one.”

Woods is gearing up for an 18-hole exhibition event at Delhi Golf Club tomorrow – the first time he has set foot in India – as guest of Pawan Munjal, the chief executive and managing director of Hero Motor Group, which specialises in motorcycles and scooters. In order words, a high-octane knockabout to fuel the bank balance.

“It’ll be fun,” he said. “Then I head home and see my kids.”

As for any tweaks to his schedule thereafter, Woods indulged in a little child’s play of his own.

Asked if he plans to alter his programme in the run-up to April’s US Masters, Woods sniped back: “Yeah, I’m going to play every week from here on out until the end of the season. How’s that? We’ll see what happens.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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