Tiger Big Easy Open Strong in Dubai

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2006 Dubai Desert ClassicDUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Ross Fisher and Graeme McDowell fired rounds of 7-under-par 65 Thursday to share the lead after the opening round of the Dubai Desert Classic.
 
World No. 1 and defending champion Tiger Woods posted a 4-under-par 68 and is tied for 10th after the opening round at Emirates Golf Club.
 
Ernie Els, a three-time winner of this event, is tied for third after carding a 66 Thursday. Els was joined at minus-6 by Jyoti Randhawa and Jose Manuel Lara.
 
Woods did not do much during his opening nine holes. He bogeyed the second, but atoned for that mistake with a birdie on three. After that, he cruised to six pars in a row.
 
The 31-year-old Woods, who won his seventh straight PGA TOUR start last weekend at the Buick Invitational, started to move up the leaderboard with back-to-back birdies from the 11th.
 
After chipping in for the second of those two birdies, Woods stumbled at the 12th. He came up short, left of the green with his approach and was unable to save par. Woods came right back with a birdie on 13 to get back to minus-2.
 
Woods drained a 14-foot birdie effort on the par-3 15th, then closed with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 18th to end three back.
 
'I hit the ball well today, a couple of loose ones with my irons, but overall I feel I had control of the ball,' stated Woods. 'I've just got to get organized on the greens. The greens themselves are absolutely perfect, you just have to get them started on line and I didn't do that very well today.'
 
Fisher started on the back nine and posted his first birdie at the 13th. He birdied three of four holes from the 15th to make the turn at minus-4.
 
The Englishman ran off three straight birdies from the second to get to minus- 7. Fisher faltered to a bogey on six, but erased that mistake with a birdie on eight. He parred the last for his share of the lead.
 
McDowell was just 1 under through nine with a birdie and eight pars on the front nine. He moved to minus-2 with a birdie on 10.
 
The Ulsterman eagled the 13th and birdied 14 to jump to 5 under. McDowell converted back-to-back birdie efforts from the 16th to tie Fisher in the lead.
 
'As far as my game is concerned, there are a lot of positives in there,' said McDowell. 'It is hard to put an exact number on it, but I would think it feels about 75 percent. But I do feel like many parts of my game have improved immensely and I'm very happy where it is right now.'
 
Miguel Angel Jimenez, a two-time runner-up here, carded a 5-under-par 67 Thursday. He was joined in a tie for sixth by Simon Dyson, Thongchai Jaidee and Phillip Price.
 
Woods stands alongside Raphael Jacquelin, Prom Meesawat, Darren Clarke, Cesar Monasterio, Marcel Siem, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood at minus-4.
 
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