For the second consecutive week, an event had an extra buzz in the air due to the presence of Tiger Woods in the field after his 17 month absence from professional golf.
Once again, Woods appeared uncomfortable and looked rusty as he produced an over par round at a place where he has experience a ton of success, having won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic twice.
Woods stepped up to the No. 10 tee box (his first hole of the day) at Emirates Golf Club to big cheers and an even bigger gallery. He would snap hook his first drive to the left of the fairway and things went downhill from there as he bogeyed the par 5 10th hole en route to an opening round 77.
He played alongside Englishmen Matthew Fitzpatrick and Masters winner and defending Dubai Desert Classic champion Danny Willett and had multiple low-lights including apparently topping a putt from the fringe on the par 4 12th hole and hitting his 100-yard approach on the par 5 18th into the water.
Following his opening tee shot, Woods winced (and golf fans around the world winced with him), but it was not known whether it was in pain or in disgust from his errant drive. After the round, the 14-time major champion said he was not in any pain.
“No, I wasn’t in pain at all,” Woods told ESPN’s Bob Harig. “I was just trying to hit shots and I wasn’t doing a very good job. At the end I finally hit some good ones but the damage had already been done. On top of that, I could have hung in there, could have shot something near even par if I would have made some putts, but I made nothing.”
On top of Woods’ dismal birdie-free round, Sergio Garcia went low, firing an opening round 65 to take thelead into the second round.
Barring a round in the 66 or 67 range, Woods will likely miss his second consecutive cut.
Woods tees it up in the second round at 3:35 a.m. ET and the weather forecast calls for strong winds and rain.