Sunday 21 January 2018

Woeful Woods gets lost in Dubai desert

Tiger Woods plays out of the sand during round one of the Dubai Desert Classic. Photo: Nezar Balout/Getty Images
Tiger Woods plays out of the sand during round one of the Dubai Desert Classic. Photo: Nezar Balout/Getty Images

James Corrigan

Never has a lost man stumbling around in a desert looked so distraught to find water. Tiger Woods's reaction on the 18th hole, as he watched his ball sink, summed up a woeful, birdieless day which leaves him facing his second missed cut in as many weeks.

Of course, it was not going to be straightforward, returning after an 18-month absence from official competition necessitated by multiple back operations. But Woods did not believe it would be this brutal. And the fact he is not only 12 shots off the Desert Classic lead here but that the pacesetter is his long-time enemy Sergio Garcia only makes his predicament appear that bit more cruel.

Little wonder his frustration boiled over into a few four-letter expletives during his 77, his worst score in 29 rounds at the Emirates course. The lowlight came on that par-five 18th (his ninth) where, from 100 yards, he hit his approach into the lake guarding the green. But the succession of yanked putts was just as galling. He is in a tie for 122nd in the 132-man field.


"I didn't hit the ball very well," Woods said. "I left probably about 16 putts short. I just couldn't get the speed of these things, and it added up to a pretty high number."

The 41-year-old seemed to be moving gingerly, especially in the early stages. But he was adamant he "wasn't in any pain at all". For him the agony was all in his swing. There were fine drives on his last two holes, the eighth and ninth, but, worryingly, he did not know what had been the problem before.

"If I knew, I could tell you right now," Woods said. "The last two drives there was something different. I need to figure out what the hell I did that was different."

The bad news for Woods fans is that high winds are forecast today, though the man himself thinks that may be his only shot. "Hopefully this wind blows tomorrow and I shoot a good round and get back to even par - that's not out of the realm of winning the tournament," he said. "But I have to go out there and do it." Alas, that seems a big "but". He is clutching at straws in a gale. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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