Tiger Enjoys OMeara Win in Dubai

RSS

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Mark O'Meara mentored Tiger Woods when he first joined the PGA Tour.
 
Now it's Tiger's turn.
 
When the 47-year-old O'Meara won the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday, the first to offer a hug was Woods. He also promised his fellow Floridian a ride home on his private jet, which O'Meara calls 'TWA -- Tiger Woods Airlines.'
 
'He's guaranteed to get a lift,' Woods said.
 
O'Meara, a winner again for the first time in nearly six years, closed with a 3-under 69 on Sunday for a one-stroke victory over Ireland's Paul McGinley.
 
'To have Tiger Woods standing there on the 18th green giving me a big bear hug, it shows the kind of heart the guy has,' O'Meara said. 'He knows it's been a long time coming for me.'
 
It's been almost six years since O'Meara won his last official tournament -- the 1998 British Open, which came just months after he won the Masters.
 
'I felt toward the end of last season, I reached, maybe not the low point, but it was time to turn things around and really get a passion for playing the game of golf again,' O'Meara explained.
 
Woods, six strokes back after three rounds, made a mini-charge but finished five behind after a 68 on a hot, breezy day at the Emirates Golf Club.
 
World No. 3 Ernie Els closed with a 65 to finish four behind O'Meara. Englishman David Howell was also four off the pace after a 67. Two others joined Woods at five behind -- Thai Thongchai Jaidee (67) and German Marcel Siem (66).
 
Woods and O'Meara credit a new grip for his revival.
 
'In the last year, Mark has been hitting it pretty good,' Woods said. 'He just didn't make any putts. Now he's starting to make some putts and the tide has turned around.'
 
The new putting grip produced 14 birdies in the second and third rounds. It yielded three on the front nine Sunday and another on the back nine, where O'Meara never was in much trouble.
 
O'Meara calls the grip 'the saw.' The top hand -- the left - assumes a normal position with the right pinching the shaft between the thumb and three fingers. The posture aligns the wrist with the forearm.
 
'I'm taking dibs on this,' O'Meara said of his new grip. 'We're going to have to get copyrights.
 
'The putting grip has certainly rejuvenated my career,' he added. 'I hit some wonderful putts, great speed on the putts.'
 
'Chalk one up for the old boys,' O'Meara said, breaking into a big smile. 'It's been a big day for me, it really has. It's been a long time.'
 
McGinley, who last won 18 months ago in the Welsh Open, was openly disappointed.
 
'The difference between winning and second is huge,' said McGinley, who holed the winning putt for Europe in the 2002 Ryder Cup. 'Having said that, I didn't lose the tournament -- Mark won it.'
 
Woods picked up three birdies on the front nine with putts of 12, 10 and 4 feet and then added an eagle on the 549-yard 10th, where he dropped a putt from 10 feet after lacing a 234-yard 5-iron.
 
Woods struggled after that with two bogeys and got his lone birdie on the back nine with a 20-foot putt on 18.
 
'I figured I needed to keep making birdies,' Woods said. 'I tried my best to do that, but I just couldn't do it. I had only five holes where I dropped shots this week, but I just didn't make enough birdies to win the tournament.'
 
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Dubai Desert Classic
  • Full Coverage - Dubai Desert Classic
     
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.