IN PICS: Woods at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Woods shot a 77 on day one.

Former world number one Tiger Woods suffered a nightmare start to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic as his golfing comeback continued in demoralising fashion.

Woods failed to card a single birdie as he slumped to an opening 77 at Emirates Golf Club, two shots worse than his previous highest score in the event.

That left the 14-time major winner with just three players below him on the leaderboard and 12 shots off the clubhouse lead held by Sergio Garcia, who carded six birdies and an eagle in his 65.

Woods had said on Wednesday that his latest swing has been designed to “play away from pain” as he returned to action from a back injury which required three operations in the space of 19 months.

However, the 41-year-old did not look 100 per cent fit at various points in his round, climbing gingerly out of a greenside bunker early on and notably grimacing as he walked off the seventh tee.

In his first five appearances in Dubai, Woods never finished outside the top five and lifted the trophy in 2006 and 2008. He finished 20th and 41st respectively on his last two visits in 2011 and 2014, but was still a combined 92 under par.

But he faces a massive task to avoid his second missed cut in a row after making an early exit from his first PGA Tour event since August 2015 in San Diego last week.

Starting from the 10th, Woods bogeyed the 549-yard par five after failing to get up and down from a bunker, before dropping another shot by three-putting from just short of the 12th green.

Another shot went after his approach to the 18th came up short of the green and rolled back into the water, the world number 666 having to hole from eight feet to avoid a double bogey.

That meant an opening nine holes of 40 and chances for a first birdie of the day went begging on the second and third after a poor chip from short of the green and another tentative putt from seven feet respectively.

Woods was struggling to get the pace of the greens and three-putted the fifth before missing from five feet for par on the next, and a miserable day was summed up by an uphill birdie putt on the ninth which was well short of pace.

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WATCH: Tiger on comeback & Dubai return

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CNN’s ‘Living Golf’ caught up with Tiger Woods in Dubai on Thursday.

When asked what his message to fellow Americans is at this time he said, “We’re fellow Americans. And as Americans we come together and we do what’s best for our country.

“And we need to be united, and be Americans. And I know there is a lot of divisiveness as of right now but with time, patience and unity I think will win out.”

On the topic of his recuperation from a back injury he reveals there were “a lot of dark times where I couldn’t get out of bed.”

He also feared not being able to return to the sport due to the pain of the nerve damage.

‘I’d rather have a damaged knee every day than deal with nerve pain again.’ He added, “It’s like hitting your funny bone a thousand times a day. It becomes not so funny.”

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Garcia delighted with Omega Dubai Desert Classic showing

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The 37-year-old hit a 65, making one eagle and six birdies on the Majlis Course at the Emirates Golf Club.

On a rare day of bad weather in Dubai, Garcia led the field on Thursday with Felipe Aguilar and George Coetzee (both -6) tied for second place.

Garcia, who is targeting his first title at the Nakheel-based venue, said: “We obviously got a bit lucky with the weather this morning, it was quite benign and nice until we got to the last six holes.

“Overall, it would have been nice to have a bogey free round but I made a bunch of other ones.”


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