Tiger Woods off to a slow start in Dubai

Tiger Woods wound up three strokes off the lead after a 4-under 68 in the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club.

updated: March 22, 2007 06:37 IST
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The clicking cameras didn't help. Neither did the poor putting. Tiger Woods had to deal with both Thursday, and wound up three strokes off the lead after a 4-under 68 in the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club. "Last week I putted great and today I didn't putt so good," said Woods, the defending champion. India's Jyoti Randhawa is tied for 9th with a score of 8 under after the second round. Randhawa rose Indian hopes after the first round as he surged ahead of World Number one Tiger Woods at 6 under. But a second round score of 2 under ensured that he was still tied for 9th spot after the halfway stage. Woods is now tied for the 6th place at 9 under, 5 shots behind leader Ross Fisher of England. Second hole Ross Fisher and Graeme McDowell both shot 7-under 65s to share the lead. Ernie Els, expected to be Woods' main competition, was another stroke back at 66 in a three-way tie for third with Jose Manuel Lara and Jyoti Randhawa. Woods' problems started on the second hole, where he drove into a row of trees before settling for a bogey. He reclaimed the lost stroke on the par-5 third hole, but he soon encountered another problem on the eighth. While he was swinging, a group of photographers were snapping pictures, causing the world's top-ranked golfer to send the ball into the long grass on the edge of the fairway. "Nice going guys, thanks," he said sarcastically. On the 12th, Woods missed a short putt and took another bogey. He responded by tossing his club onto the ground. "I left a lot of opportunities out there," Woods said. "I didn't putt well. I didn't put the ball on line with my putts. It was frustrating because the greens are really nice out there. I just have to get some work in here." Still, Woods started the back nine with a pair of birdies to keep himself in contention. PGA Tour Woods flew halfway around the world after cruising to win the Buick Invitational on Sunday for his seventh straight victory on the PGA Tour. The Dubai tournament won't affect the streak because it's a PGA European Tour event. Woods, who denied having jet lag, knows what he needs to do in the next three rounds to reclaim his title. "Work. Bust my butt. That's how you do it," he said. "I just need to do a little work here around the greens and get my stroke organized." Els, first playing on the back nine, also started par-bogey on his first two holes. But the South African followed with an eagle and three straight birdies to climb near the top of the leaderboard. "It was a nice start," said Els, a three-time Dubai champion. "To be 6 under after the first round, you always take that." Woods' playing partner, Miguel Angel Jimenez, stayed ahead of the world's top-ranked golfer for the entire round. Jimenez finished with a 67, including a 40-foot birdie putt on the 16th. "I did good," Jimenez said, nodding at Woods. "He's tough to beat." Fisher, however, was the surprise leader in a field that also includes Henrik Stenson (68), Paul Casey (70) and Sergio Garcia (73). "Obviously it's a tremendous thrill," the Englishman said. "I along with Ernie Els am trying to get to where he (Woods) is, but it's proving very, very difficult." Woods' presence lured throngs of fans. Five Muslim girls in black headscarves shadowed the American, waving at him and calling out in unison "Go Tiger!" Woods gave the girls a wave at one point. (With AP input)