DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Tiger Woods is looking to old friend Roger Federer for some inspiration.
The 40-year-old American hasn’t won a major since 2008, while the 35-year-old Federer claimed his 18th Grand Slam title on Sunday at the Australian Open, beating Rafael Nadal in the final in his first tournament following a six-month injury layoff.
“What Rog has done is he’s been dominant for so long,” Woods said as he continues his comeback from 16 months off at this week’s Dubai Desert Classic. “To compete against (Novak Djokovic), to compete against Rafa, and now Andy (Murray) is playing well. He’s had a litany of guys who have won slams. And no one wins slams at his age.
“And for him to come back, after having to take that much time off, and for him to get the timing, that’s the hardest part.”
Woods has won 14 majors, the last coming at the 2008 U.S. Open. Since then, he has dropped from No. 1 in the world to No. 666. He has twice won in Dubai but missed the cut in his first appearance of the year at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
After three back surgeries in the last few years, Woods is hoping to emulate Federer and get back to his best.
“As you get older, you change your game and you do things slightly differently, and he did that,” Woods said of Federer.
“Am I going to do that? Yeah, I’m not going to be hitting balls like some of these guys, 340, out there,” Woods said. “I watched Dustin (Johnson) carry a ball last week when it was cold, wet and damp and carried it 335. Jason (Day) and I just looked at each other going, ‘We don’t have that.'”
The Dubai Desert Classic is the final leg of the European Tour’s Desert Swing. Woods has been paired with Masters champion Danny Willett and World Tour Championship winner Matthew Fitzpatrick for the first two days.
And his main goal will be to make sure there is no chance of recurrence of pain in his back.
“The simplest thing is, I just play away from pain. That’s it,” Woods said. “Whether my swing looks classical, rhythmical or it may look unorthodox, I don’t care. As long as I don’t feel that nerve pain.”