Woods races to lead in Dubai
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2008 Dubai Desert Classic | Round One | 01 Feb 2008
Is the Dubai Desert Classic over before it started? Tiger Woods suggested it might be when he took advantage of an early tee time on day one of the event and quickly took up where he left off last Sunday at the Buick Invitational. In an ominous warning to those who might be considered challengers, Woods suggested he was playing a little better this week then last.
Starting at the 10th today, Woods turned in three under 34 and added a further four birdies over the closing nine to finish at seven under 65. A line-up of eleven players are at five under 67 and two behind including the leading Australian Scott Hend and the winner of the Abu Dhabi tournament two weeks ago, Martin Kaymer.
Hend finished fourth on the Asian Tour moneylist in 2007 and as a result gained a start in this event as a leading regional money winner. Clearly this is a big week for him but the big hitting Queenslander, who was rookie of the year in Asia last year, has previously finished third behind Zach Johnson at the Bell South Open on the PGA Tour highlighting that he possesses a game capable of contending at this level.
Kaymer missed the cut last week, perhaps a reaction to his win the previous week but the brilliant German has served notice that he is back and might yet contend once again. The 23-year-old actually got within one of Tiger before finding the water at the last and dropping a shot.
Other leading chances in the event, Ernie Els and Henrik Stenson, both finished at 4 under and are still very much in the mix. Stenson made a fast start to the tournament with birdies at four of his first five holes and looked a likely challenger to Woods’ lead but dropped two shots late in his round.
Peter O’Malley is the next best Australian after Hend with an opening round of 68, Marcus Fraser 69, Brendan Jones 71 and 1997 winner Richard Green, a disappointing 73.