By finishing third in an Arabian dust storm at last week’s Dubai Desert Classic, Tiger Woods extended his winless streak in non-Tour international events to five. Dating back to September 2006, he has lost at the HSBC World Match Play, played for the losing side at the Ryder Cup, finished second at tournaments in China and Japan, and in Dubai played third fiddle to Henrik Stenson. It’s enough to make a fellow turn in his passport.
Tiger’s other streak, seven Tour wins in a row, is still alive, and many have figured out that Tiger can tie Byron Nelson‘s record of 11 straight at the Masters — Holy Amen Corner, Batman! — if he wins three straight events between now and April. Nothing he said in Dubai, however, clarified his plans. Said Woods, “I’m going to go home and kind of figure it out. Hopefully I’ll get my putting organized before I compete again.”
• Mark O’Meara was in Dubai last week too. There, he announced he would not play in this week’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am as originally planned because he remembered how tough it was to go from Dubai all the way to the West Coast last year. Pebble was supposed to be the final Tour start for O’Meara. But instead of playing in an event he’s won five times, O’Meara, who turned 50 on Jan. 13, will now prepare for his Champions tour debut at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am on Feb. 16-18 in Tampa. Fair enough, but the move does raise one interesting hypothetical: If O’Meara had shown up at Pebble, how would that have made Woods look for skipping the Nissan Open, played a week later, because of travel fatigue? … Nick Price (who turned 50 on Jan. 28) will make his Champions debut at this week’s Allianz Championship.
• As usual, next year’s FBR will end on the same day as the Super Bowl. The difference is that the 2008 NFL championship will be played about half an hour away at Phoenix’s Glendale Stadium. The Thunderbirds, who run the FBR, spent months pressing the Tour to move the finish to Saturday, as it did in 1996, the last time the Super Bowl was in Phoenix, but TV obligations prevented a switch. Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds are planning for hotel shortages and traffic jams, and have begun figuring out where to land helicopters so they can ferry players and bigwigs to the game in time for kickoff…. A few fun Super Bowl bets popped up at the Las Vegas Hilton: Which would be higher, Woods’s final-round score in Dubai (69) or Bernard Berrian‘s receiving yards (38)? Or Ernie Els‘s Sunday score at Dubai (71) versus Dominic Rhodes‘s combined rushing and receiving yards (113)? That’s Footballers 1, Golfers 1.
• The Monterrey Peninsula averages 4.2 inches of rain in January but received only .9 of an inch last month, one of the driest Januaries on record. This week’s forecast? Rain.
• SUGGESTED WOODS BABY NAME OF THE WEEK: Sumo2.