Tiger Woods headed to Dubai this week with something to prove. That is, as much as the world’s No. 1 player and arguably the best golfer to ever walk this earth could have to prove.
After a disappointing showing at the Farmers Insurance Open, a tournament he’d won seven times before, saw him missing the secondary cut, this stop overseas is meant to serve as a way to tighten his game up a bit before he makes his return to the PGA Tour in a few weeks’ time.
Woods didn’t make it look easy by any means, though. His driving was all over the place on the first nine, and he found himself scrambling to reach greens in regulation from rough and bunkers alike. Despite that, he rallied to make four birdies before the turn, then ran off nine straight pars to finish the first day tied for tenth place, five shots behind red-hot leader Rory McIlroy.
“Overall it was a pretty good score but maybe I could have gotten two more out of it,” Woods said after the round. “After going 0-for-12 on birdies on the par-fives last week, it was actually nice to make one at the first hole right out of the gate.”
That’s certainly improvement, but what continues to be an issue is the sheer number of strokes he’s leaving out on the course. It may be early in the year, and we all know he’s in a perpetual cycle of “major championship preparation” these days, but at a certain point, that killer instinct that has made him one of the most commanding presences in golf for over a decade needs to come back.
Woods will be paired with McIlroy again in the second round at Dubai, so hopefully he’ll try to top the incredible play the young Ulsterman showed in the opener. It’s that type of drive that will eventually lead him to his 15th major, and beyond.