DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Missing fairways, missing greens and piling up the putts, Tiger Woods got off to a rough start at the Dubai Desert Classic.
The 14-time major winner finished the first round with a 5-over 77, failing to record even one birdie on Thursday at the Emirates Golf Club.
“Well, I didn’t hit the ball very well,” said Woods, a two-time champion in Dubai. “I left probably about 16 putts short. I just couldn’t get the speed of these things, and consequently, it added up to a pretty high number.”
At the halfway stage of the first round, Woods had the second worst score among those who finished. Sergio Garcia was the early leader at 7-under 65.
Woods started on the 10th hole and hit only 10 fairways and 11 greens in regulation. He needed 33 putts to complete his round.
“I just could not hit the putts hard enough. I left every putt short,” Woods said. “What I thought was downgrain, downwind, would be quick, downhill, and I still came up short. Into the wind, uphill putts into the grain, I put a little more hinge on it going back to try to get a little more hit to it and it still didn’t work.”
Strong wind was forecast for Friday, making the prospect of picking up some strokes in the second round a bit difficult.
“Hopefully, this wind blows tomorrow and I shoot a good round and get back to even par now. That’s certainly not out of the realms,” Woods said. “But I have to go out there and do it. I have to go out there and execute and it’s going to be tough and hopefully it is tough and I can play a really solid round and give myself more looks.”
Woods returned to golf last month after 17 months off with a back injury, but he didn’t make the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open.
On Thursday, he said his back was fine.
“I wasn’t in pain at all. I was just trying to hit shots and I wasn’t doing a very good job,” Woods said. “At the end, I finally hit some good ones but damage had already been done. On top of that, I could have hung in there, I could have shot something near even par if I would have made some putts, but I made nothing.”