Tiger Woods continues his quest this week at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic to get back to the place where we all are accustomed to seeing him.
However, unlike his last attempt in 2014, which fizzled out very soon with the back issue arising again, he seems to have accepted a few hard facts of life. Age is catching up with Woods, and his body is no longer what it used to be.
Not that you’d guess that by looking at the 41-year-old, he seems to have lost weight and looking supremely fit otherwise as he played the pro-am yesterday at Emirates Golf Club.
But while his hunger remains undiminished, in his pre-tournament press conference, he admitted to a changing of the guard, and that he will probably find it hard to match the power game of today’s generation. Accepting that fact is good for Woods.
While most people were in awe of his long game and how he brought golf courses to their knees with brute strength, it often hid the fact that the former world No1 actually had a short game to die for. At Torrey Pines last week, he was consistently out-driven by Dustin Johnson and Jason Day.
That really wasn’t his main issue, his troubles were more because he kept spraying his drives. But Woods spoke about how he is trying to move with the times like his good friend Roger Federer did and was successful in winning the Australian Open.
Woods has also drawn inspiration from the fact that Jim Furyk, one of the shortest hitters on the PGA Tour, was able to score two rounds in the 50s recently.
He has made peace with the fact that he does not have to bomb 320-yard drives to score well, and that is something that should help him on a course like Majlis this week. What would constitute a real progress for Woods this week?
He believes, and rightly so, that he can win the tournament. And while on the basis of what we saw at Torrey Pines, that would seem to be a distant dream, there cannot be any doubt that a strategic golf course like Majlis gives him a great chance to move into contention.
In the pro-am, Woods hit some great shots and some iffy ones with the driver. And while hitting the driver well does give a lot of advantage on any golf course, Woods can possibly get by here with a threewood. And his short game seems to be in pretty good shape.
Tiger Woods will make his Dubai return on Thursday.— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 31, 2017
He has some history here. pic.twitter.com/AhI0FZSoLu
Whatever be the final outcome of his efforts, there is absolutely no denying what he brings to the table. Despite the fact world No2 Rory McIlroy pulled out, there is an immense buzz around the tournament, all because of Woods.
Rarely do you see more than hundreds of fans following a group in a pro-am, but it happened on Wednesday. The tournament received nearly 260 accreditation requests from media around the world, and the last time that number was bettered was in 2014, when Woods featured at the 25th anniversary.
The American was asked if he ever tried to reflect on what he means to golf. He dodged the question, saying it was something he refrained from doing as he keeps his focus on being a player.
But one just needs to come to the Emirates Golf Club to realise that Woods, even when struggling, is worth his weight in gold.
Tiger Woods’ return to competitive golf continues in Dubai at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic from February 2-5.
Ahead of the event he visited the Burj Al Arab, the iconic Dubai landmark where he famously hit balls off the helipad in 2004.
Woods, making his eighth appearance in the tournament that he won in 2006 and 2008, took time out to practise his swing on the terrace and was on the helipad again to take a helicopter tour of the city that in 2019 will become home to a course he is designing.