DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Tiger Woods picked up right where he left off last week – at the top of the leaderboard.
Woods, who won the Buick Invitational on Sunday by eight strokes, shot a 7-under 65 Thursday to take a two-shot lead after the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic. (Second-round updates at europeantour.com.)
“I played well today, just a bunch of good golf shots,” Woods said after his bogey-free round at the Emirates Golf Club.
Eleven players, including Miguel Angel Jimenez and Abu Dhabi Golf Championship winner Martin Kaymer, were tied for second at 67. Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and defending champion Henrik Stenson were tied with 10 others another stroke back.
Woods said he played better in Dubai than he did last week at Torrey Pines.
“I had two good days of practice the last couple days and started to hit the ball a lot better than I did last week,” said Woods, who won the Dubai tournament in 2006.
Last year, Woods was plagued by poor putting and finished third here. He missed a few chances Thursday, but wasn’t complaining.
“I had a couple of good opportunities to make some putts and just kind of ran them over the edge, but overall today was just – couldn’t ask for a better start,” the world’s No. 1 player said.
Jet lag also didn’t appear to bother him.
“The better shape I’ve gotten, the easier it is. I don’t usually have a problem. It usually takes me maybe a day and I’m good to go,” said Woods, who arrived in Dubai on Tuesday after flying halfway around the world to the oil-rich United Arab Emirates.
Woods’ dominant win at the Buick Invitational was his fourth straight and 62nd career title, tying Arnold Palmer for fourth place on the PGA Tour list. If he triumphs in Dubai, it will be his seventh win in eight starts.
“He’s playing at a very good level at the moment,” Garcia said. “We know that the only thing we can do is keep trying, keep trying, keep playing our hardest and, you know, try to challenge him as much as possible.”
Kaymer had been trailing Woods by one until he bogeyed the final hole.
Jimenez had a hole-in-one on the seventh.
Colin Montgomerie, who played in the same pairing with Woods, banged his driver on the turf after hitting a wayward shot at the ninth hole. Though the Scot made four birdies, he also had two double-bogeys – including at the ninth – to finish at 72.