February 01, 2017

Tiger set to play at Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Two-time champion Tiger Woods makes his eighth appearance at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic this week at Emirates Golf Club.

Tiger made his 2017 PGA TOUR debut last week at the Farmers Insurance Open, his first official tournament in 17 months. He shot rounds of 76 and 72, and missed the cut for only the 16th time is his professional career.

Woods spent the weekend working on his game in California, then flew from Los Angeles to Dubai on Sunday night, arriving in Dubai about 3 a.m. on Tuesday. He came to the course around noon to hit balls and putt.

Afterward, Tiger did some promotional activities and hit a golf ball off a helipad on the roof of the Burj Al Arab Hotel, something he did previously in 2004. He also took a helicopter tour of the city.

On Wednesday, he played in the pro-am, teaming up with Peter Dawson, former chief executive of the R&A.

Woods will look to improve his driving and iron play this week. He struggled in both areas during the first round at the Farmers, but showed marked improvement in the second round.

“I always enjoy coming to Dubai,” Tiger said. “The hospitality is great, and the people are friendly and supportive. It’s nice coming to a golf course I know.”

Woods last played in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in 2014, but he has good history in the event with five top-five finishes. In 28 rounds, he is a combined 92-under par and has a scoring average of 68.71.

The Majlis Course measures 7,328 yards and is dwarfed by the nearby city skyline. Players must contend with seven strategically placed fresh and saltwater lakes, bunkers and the desert. Additionally, the rough is more dense than previous years.

Woods admitted he needs time and reps to regain top form, but was encouraged by his performance last week. After taking next week off, he will play in the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California, then return to Florida for The Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Gardens, Feb. 23-26.

“As most people know, I’m not a patient person by nature,” Tiger said. “But this is going to take time, and I just have to keep moving forward.”

Woods said his top priority is to swing without pain in his back.

“Whether my swing looks classic, rhythmical or unorthodox, I don’t care,” he said. “As long as I don’t feel the nerve pain.”

Tiger has always enjoyed practicing but has been limited in recent years.

“For me, it’s about prep,” Woods said. “If I can’t prepare to win a golf tournament, I feel ill-prepared to hit the shots and handle the shots down the stretch. If I’m not able to pull them off at home, there’s no reason why I should expect to be able to pull them off out here.”

Tiger has ramped up his practice and thinks he is headed in the right direction.

“I just like to put myself in contention as many times as I possibly can to get those W’s,” he said. “This is a good week to start doing that.” 

Woods begins first-round play Wednesday at 11:15 p.m. ET (8:15 a.m. local time Thursday) with defending champion and Masters winner Danny Willett and Matthew Fitzpatrick. They start the second round Friday at 3:25 a.m. ET (12:25 p.m. local time).