Early on Thursday, there was alarm in some quarters. Tiger Woods’ swing made it appear he was in pain. Concern arose as a day before the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Tiger had been categorical he would “play away from pain”, even if it came at the cost of looking awkward.
“Those who have experienced nerve pain in the back or anywhere in the spine would know it’s like hitting your funny bone a thousand times a day, and it’s not fun,” he emphasised.
The reason emerged after the round was over. It had to do with his “trying to hit good shots and not doing a good job”. By the time sanity was restored, damage had been done. Five-over 77 isn’t a score he would have bargained for at a venue and event he’s won twice. From poor ball striking to leaving the putts short as he misread the speed of the greens, little went right.
Grim battle ahead
All Tiger could pray for is a chance to set it right on Friday. “Hopefully the wind blows (he likes it that way) and I can shoot a good round and get to even par.”
No birdies. 77 shots.— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) February 2, 2017
Tiger Woods' opening round was his highest European Tour score in a non-Major or WGC event (82 rounds). pic.twitter.com/fQ1SE444JF
Staying patient under the circumstances is tough, but Tiger insisted he was trying. (The round didn’t feature a single birdie.) “I’m fighting to try and shoot a score.” Since that didn’t happen, it will be an attempt to creep back. “Get back to even par and then try and get to one or two-under… I haven’t given myself a lot of look at birdies.”
That’s easier said than done, given his ball-striking at the Emirates Golf Club. It was better at the Hero World Challenge in Albany last month, and though the course and conditions were different, Tiger is seeking answers.
“I need to figure out what the hell I did was different, and then replicate it (here), hopefully, for another 54 holes,” he said.