The Reuters global sports blog
Woods caught between Rock and not such a hard place
There was no first full-field event win for the first time since November 2009 for Tiger Woods despite starting the final round of the Abu Dhabi Championship tied for the lead, but at long last the future seems bright for the 14-times major winner.
Englishman Robert Rock could barely believe what he had achieved in seeing off Woods in the final round to claim his second European Tour victory. It was a heart-warming triumph for the lesser known players who battle each season just to keep their tour-playing rights, galaxies away from the world Woods inhabits.
The American however seemed to return to earth during his time in the desert. Gone was his aloof, hot and cold manner of the past two years since his much-publicised sex scandal, replaced in the Middle East by friendly TV interviews and a vastly improved on-course demeanour.
Next up for the 36-year-old is the Pebble Beach Pro-Am starting on Feb. 9, another favoured location for Woods where he stormed to a record 15-shot U.S. Open win in 2000 when at the peak of his powers.
With two children to make time for, Woods’ schedule won’t be a packed one but will centre around the big events in the lead-up to the season’s defining months of April, May, June, July and August.
Another hurdle for the former world number one, now up to 17th in Monday’s rankings from 25, will be the release of former coach Hank Haney’s book on his time with the American, which provoked criticism from Woods himself given it will hit the shelves just before the first major of the year (U.S. Masters) in early April.
Nevermind. During his recent woes there were glimmers that Woods could enjoy himself and was relaxed, but they were few and far between. Those days are behind him now. As the old adage goes, form is temporary, class is permanent.
The world of golf will be better for a revitalised Woods, record crowds in the UAE capital a testament to that.
Picture: Robert Rock of England is congratulated by Tiger Woods of the U.S. (R) after Rock won the Abu Dhabi Championship at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club on January 29, 2012. REUTERS/Philip Brown