Tiger Has Sights Set on a Dubai Double

By Associated PressJanuary 31, 2007, 5:00 pm
2006 Dubai Desert ClassicDUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- A victory at the Dubai Desert Classic won't count toward Tiger Woods' streak of seven straight wins on the U.S. PGA TOUR.
 
That doesn't mean Woods came halfway around the world to finish second.
 
'It's very simple,' he said Wednesday. 'Whatever tournament I enter I'm going to try and win it, plain and simple.'
 
Thomas Bjorn and Ernie Els
Thomas Bjorn and Ernie Els are two players hoping to deny Woods a repeat win. (WireImage)
The Dubai tournament, which starts Thursday with a field that includes Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Paul Casey, won't affect the streak because it's a PGA European Tour event.
 
Woods needs five more U.S. tour wins to beat Byron Nelson's record of 11 straight.
 
'I feel good about where I'm headed, the understanding I have of my game and my swing,' Woods said, three days after winning the Buick Invitational. 'It's always good to get another 'W' under the belt.'
 
Despite the tough competition in Dubai, Woods said he worries only about his own game.
 
'I see where I stack up going into Sunday and then you start looking around at what's going on,' he said. 'But there's 72 holes, and I have a lot of things I need to take care of before I start thinking about anybody else.'
 
Woods, who gets a huge appearance fee for playing in Dubai, praised the course at the Emirates Golf Club.
 
'They have the golf course in perfect shape,' he said. 'It's going to be, I'm sure, some pretty low scores out there considering how good the greens are.'
 
Els, who won in Dubai in 1994, 2002 and '05, knows Woods is his main competition.
 
'The way he's playing now, every week, he's the one to beat,' Els said. 'You can't go head-to-head against him. You've got to have your own goals. But I'd like to win some more tournaments with him in them.'
 
The Dubai Desert Classic is the last of three straight tournaments in the Gulf region, after the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and the Qatar Masters. Goosen won in Qatar last week and Casey took the title in Abu Dhabi.
 
Former Dubai champions Mark O'Meara, David Howell and Colin Montgomerie are also in the field, along with Greg Norman, Sergio Garcia, Darren Clarke, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood and Thomas Bjorn.
 
Still, everyone expects the final round to come down to Woods and Els, who first won in Dubai as a 23-year-old unknown.
 
'I didn't know who I was. And nobody else did, for that matter,' said Els, who finished two strokes behind Goosen last week in Qatar. 'I felt the juices flowing there last week. I've always felt confident around here. I'm at the start of my season. I'm fresh. I want to play.'
 
Some players, like Garcia and Montgomerie, plan to visit the sites of courses they are designing.
 
Woods said he's got a few other 'business meetings' in Dubai, but declined to elaborate. Els spent Tuesday evening at a South African steakhouse promoting his Ernie Els label of South African wines.
 
Norman, who is also designing a Dubai course, said he hasn't touched a golf club in more than a month.
 
'I don't have the motivation that I used to, to go out and practice 10 hours a day,' Norman said. 'Hitting golf balls isn't good for me. It beats me up pretty good.'
 
Dubai is considered the world's fastest growing city. When Els first won the 1993 Classic, the Emirates Golf Club sat alongside a two-lane road that drifted off into the empty desert dunes.
 
Now the course is surrounded by million-dollar mansions and shimmering skyscrapers. The sound of jackhammers drifts across the course, as does the roar of trucks on the road, now 12-lanes wide.
 
'It's looking like the New York skyline a bit now,' Woods said of the row of half-built skyscrapers rising behind the eighth hole.
 
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

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    Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

    Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

    Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

    What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

    Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

    Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

    Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

    Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

    Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

    Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry