A week after missing the cut on his PGA Tour return in San Diego, Tiger Woods found himself struggling again on the opening day of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
A two-time winner of the event dubbed the ‘Major of the Middle East’, Woods stumbled to the turn in 40, three-over-par, at the Emirates Golf Club.
It left him sitting close to last among the morning starters and eight behind the early pacesetters, including Spanish star Sergio Garcia.
Woods, who made an early exit from the Farmers Insurance Open last week following rounds of 76 and 72, suffered an instant setback in his bid to get a confidence-boosting performance under his belt.
Starting at the 10th, he badly pulled his tee shot and was never on the fairway thereafter in running up a bogey 6.
The 14-times major winner followed that by also dropping a shot at the 12th, where he was just off the fairway but couldn’t get it on to the green from the left rough.
His decision to take a putter rather than play a bump and run from just short of the green was a clear sign of a weakness and he was left to regret it.
The putt, after all, had to be one of the worst of his career, coming up at least 15 feet short and not even getting close to the right line.
His first decent birdie chance of the day - from around 10 feet at the short 15th - didn’t threaten the hole, either before he ended his outward nine the way it had started.
The former world No 1 had got lucky in the pro-am when his approach at the 18th spun back and came to rest on the fringe, but not this time.
It ended up in the water and he did well to escape with a bogey after taking his drop at the same spot and putting what with his fifth shot to around 10 feet.
The statistics told the story. Woods had hit just four out of seven fairways, six out of nine greens and taken 17 putts.
He trailed one of his playing partners, Matt Fitzpatrick, by six shots as the Englishman took up in Dubai where he’d left off when winning the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates last November.
Irishman Brendan McGovern’s lead at European Senior Tour Qualifying School final stage was cut to just one stroke as 28 golfers secured their place in today’s final round at Pestana Golf & Resort in Portugal.
Playing on the Vale da Pinta course in Lagoa, American Clark Dennis closed the gap on McGovern after carding the lowest round of this year’s final stage, a seven under par 64.
He is followed by compatriot Barry Conser on six under par and Spain’s José Manuel Carriles, who sits a shot further back in fourth place.
Former Musselburgh pro Fraser Mann just scraped into the final round after a battling 68 on the third day left him on four-over.
But Kenny Hutton, the ex-Downfield pro, missed out by seven shots despite his best effort of the week - a 70.
The scratch spoils were split two ways in the Edinburgh & East of Scotland Alliance event at The Roxburghe.
It followed the pairings of Jamie McLeary (Dunbar)/Stuart Davidson (Royal Burgess) and Royal Burgess duo Malcolm Pennycott and Varun Varadharajan both signing for 67s.