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.
 
Related Links:
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    Punch shot: Predictions for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 4:00 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In advance of the 147th Open Championship, GolfChannel.com writers sound off on burning questions as players ready for a fast and firm test at Carnoustie. Here’s what our writers think about myriad topics:

    The Monday morning headline will be …

    REX HOGGARD: “Survival.” This one is easy. It always is at Carnoustie, which is widely considered The Open’s most demanding major championship test. Monday’s headline will be that the champion - pick a champion, any one will do - “survived” another dramatic Open. You don’t dominate Carnoustie; you endure.

    RYAN LAVNER: “DJ Bashes Way to Victory at Carnoustie.” If somehow a two-win season could be disappointing, it has been for DJ. He’s first in scoring average, birdie average, par-4 scoring, par-5 scoring, strokes gained: tee to green and proximity from the rough. Those last two stats are the most important, especially here at Carnoustie, with these dry conditions. The game’s preeminent long-and-straight driver, there’s a better-than-decent chance he rolls.

    MERCER BAGGS: “Rahm Tough: Spaniard charges to Open victory.” Jon Rahm will claim him maiden major title this week by powering his way through the winds and fescue at Carnoustie.

    JAY COFFIN: “Thomas wins second major, ascends to world No. 1 again.” Shortly after The Open last year, Thomas rolled through the end of the PGA Tour season. This is the time of year he likes best. Despite a poor Open record the last two years, he’s not remotely concerned. He’s a tad miffed he didn’t win in France two weeks ago and comes to Carnoustie refreshed, with a gameplan, and ready to pounce.



    Who or what will be the biggest surprise?

    HOGGARD: Style of play. Given Carnoustie’s reputation as a brute, the surprise will be how the champion arrives at his lofty perch. Unlike previous editions at Carnoustie, this week’s dry conditions will promote more aggressive play off the tee and the winner will defy the norm and power his way to victory.

    LAVNER: Tiger Woods. This is Woods’ best chance to win a major this year, and here’s believing he contends. His greatest strengths are his iron game and scrambling, and both aspects will be tested to the extreme at Carnoustie, helping separate him from some of the pretenders. With even a little cooperation from his putter, he should be in the mix.

    BAGGS: Padraig Harrington. He had a good opening round last week at the Scottish Open and has some good vibes being the 2007 Open champion at Carnoustie. He won’t contend for four rounds, but a few days in the mix would be a nice surprise.

    COFFIN: Alex Noren. Perhaps someone ranked 11th in the world shouldn’t be a surprise, but with so much focus on some of the bigger, household names, don’t be surprised when Noren is in contention on Sunday. He hasn’t finished worse than 25th since early May and won two weeks ago in France. He also tied for sixth place last year at Royal Birkdale.



    Who or what will be the biggest disappointment?

    HOGGARD: Jordan Spieth. Although he was brilliant on his way to victory last year at Royal Birkdale, Spieth is not the same player for this week’s championship, the byproduct of a balky putter that has eroded his confidence. Spieth said giving back the claret jug this week was hard, but his finish will be even tougher.

    LAVNER: Weather. This might sound a little sadistic, but one of the unique joys of covering this tournament is to watch the best in the world battle conditions they face only once a year – the bone-chilling cold, the sideways rain, the howling wind. It doesn’t appear as though that’ll happen this year. With only a few hours of light rain expected, and no crazy winds in the forecast, the biggest challenge for these stars will be judging the bounces on the hard, baked-out turf.

    BAGGS: Jordan Spieth. The defending champion is still trying to find his winning form and Carnoustie doesn’t seem the place to do that. As much as he says he loves playing in strong winds, there should be enough danger around here to frustrate Spieth into a missed cut.

    COFFIN: Rory McIlroy. I hope I’m wrong on this, because the game is better when Rory is in contention at majors. Putting always has been his issue and seemingly always will be. While there isn’t as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close. Super close.



    What will be the winning score?

    HOGGARD: 10 under. The last two Opens played at Carnoustie were won with 7-under and 6-over totals, but this week’s conditions will favor more aggressive play and lower scores. Expect to see plenty of birdies, but the great equalizer will come on Sunday when wind gusts are forecast to reach 25 mph.

    LAVNER: 15 under. An Open at Carnoustie has never produced a winner lower than 9 under (Tom Watson in 1975), but never have the conditions been this susceptible to low scores. Sure, the fairway bunkers are still a one-shot penalty, but today’s big hitters can fly them. The thin, wispy rough isn’t much of a deterrent. And the wind isn’t expected to really whip until the final day.

    BAGGS: 12 under. We aren’t going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that’s a shame. Any players who catch relatively benign conditions should be able to go low, as long as they can properly navigate the fairway rollout.

    COFFIN: 14 under. Walked into a local golf shop in the town of Carnoustie wearing a Golf Channel logo and the man behind the counter said, “It’ll take 14 under to win this week.” Well, he’s been here for years and seen Carnoustie host The Open twice before. He knows more about it than I do, so I’ll stick with his number.

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    Watch: Na plays backwards flop and practices lefty

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 3:16 pm

    Fresh off his victory at The Greenbrier, Kevin Na is taking a quite-literally-backwards approach to his Open prep.

    Caddie Kenny Harms has been sharing videos of Na's early work at Carnoustie.

    This one shows Na standing in a bunker and playing a flop shot over his own head (as opposed to someone else's):

    While it's unlikely he'll have a need for that exact shot this week, it's far more likely a player may have to think about turning his club over and playing from the wrong side of the ball, like so:

    Na has made 4 of 6 cuts at The Open and will look to improve on his best career finish, currently a T-22 in 2016 at Royal Troon.

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    McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

    Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

    “It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

    “Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

    He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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    Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

    By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

    A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

    Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

    Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

    And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”