Tiger Woods has major problems, and it’s not even the US Masters – yet.
The former undisputed world number one, now ranked 666th, can’t land the ball where he’s aiming.
His driving off the tee is of military precision – left, right, left, right, left.
His opening tee shot was 70 yards left of the first fairway. It wasn’t until his final two holes of the opening round of the Dubai Desert Classic that he found the middle of the fairway, but still couldn’t post his first birdie.
His five-over 77 in perfect conditions means he’ll probably have to shoot 66, or better, or miss another cut.
Woods played with Danny Willett, the reigning Masters and Dubai champion – Woods has won four Masters and two Dubais – and the highly promising 22-year-old Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick. Woods was 41 last December.
Those 19 years showed up with Fitzpatrick shooting 69, including five birdies and two bogeys, leaving at least three shots on course, while Willett struggled to a 71 with two birdies, and a bogey.
Woods’ comeback after 17 months of back surgeries and rehab would be far easier for him if the media got off his back. But we all know that will never happen.
Whenever Tiger Woods plays the media is there in droves, hanging on every shot, every reaction, and every word.
Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell added to the Woods pressure by describing him as the greatest golfer of all time during the pro-am, obviously forgetting Jack Nicklaus’ 18 majors and 19 times runner-up to Woods 14 and five.
Tiger had an ordinary pro-am, suggesting a 2am phone call from his mother didn’t help – “She forgot the nine hour diff, but I’ll get some rest this afternoon and be ready for the opening round tomorrow”.
That wasn’t the case.
European television commentators Ken Brown and Sam Torrance aren’t helping either.
Brown rued the fact Tiger’s private plane had to make a stopover for refuelling to get to Dubai, so he had to catch a commercial flight for the first time in a decade.
Reckon 1A wouldn’t be too shabby a seat.
Brown chirped up again with “Tiger has that never-say-die attitude he got from his mother and father”.
The vast majority of golfers on every tour have that attitude, or they wouldn’t be there in the first place.
There are no tankers in golf, only tennis.
Torrance often said Tiger wasn’t having any luck, but it’s a bit hard when he was like Gulliver’s Travels of his own making.
But Sam Torrance won the quote of the day, saying “that was a glorious shot, just five yards short”.
But the Scot failed to add the ball was at the bottom of the lake for another bogey.
It’s early days, but when you compare the Woods of yesteryear and yesterday, it’s chalk and cheese.
There’s no killer instinct, there’s no repetition of quality shots, and his putting – for so long his strength – is simply not there.
Will those assets return?
At 41 with attitude, it’s hard to see, but the crowds are back in their thousands – they love the bloke.
The rest is entirely up to Tiger.