January 30, 2014

Tiger shoots 4-under 68 in Round 1 of Omega Dubai

Tiger Woods shot a scrambling 4-under-par 68 on Thursday in the opening round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates. Making his second start of 2014, he carded four birdies and no bogeys.

Woods relied on his short game to finish with a clean scorecard. Although he hit only 10 of 18 greens and 7 of 14 fairways in regulation, he chipped well and finished with 25 putts.

A two-time winner of the event, Tiger trailed early clubhouse leader Rory McIlroy by five strokes.

A back-nine starter with McIlroy and defending champion Stephen Gallacher, Woods took advantage of the ideal scoring conditions by posting birdies at the par-5 10th, par-5 13th, par-3 15th and par-5 18th holes to make the turn in 4-under 33. Tiger sunk a 10-foot putt at No. 10; a 15-footer at No. 13; a 20-footer at No. 15; and two-putted the 18th, making a six-foot comebacker.

It was quite a contrast from last week, when Tiger failed to birdie any of the par-5s in three rounds at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

While Woods again struggled at times from tee to green, he hung tough with quality chips and flop shots. On his second nine, Tiger made nine consecutive pars, burning the cup with birdie attempts from 10 feet at the par-4 second and 12 feet at the par-3 fourth. He also failed to capitalize on a good birdie opportunity at the par-5 third where he hit a nice drive, knocked his second shot into the front-left bunker with a 5-wood, but then was unable to get up-and-down. 

Woods is scheduled to begin his second round on Friday at 3:25 a.m. ET on the first tee with McIlroy and Gallacher. Tiger and Rory chatted throughout the round.

“Anything and everything,” McIlroy said when asked what they discussed. “Different sports; swings. All sorts of stuff. We usually find quite a bit to talk about.”

 McIlroy was impressed with Tiger’s first-nine scoring.

“There’s no pictures on the scorecard,” he said. “He started to hit it a lot better at the end of the round.”