The Reuters global sports blog
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.
Could the balance of power in world golf be shifting from the U.S. to Europe at the start of Ryder Cup year? Americans have traditionally dominated the upper echelons of the rankings but German Martin Kaymer and Briton Ian Poulter’s one-two finish in the Abu Dhabi Championship on Sunday lifted the pair into the world’s top-10 for the first time.
With Kaymer (sixth) and Poulter (10th) joining Lee Westwood (fourth), Padraig Harrington (seventh), Henrik Stenson (eighth) and Paul Casey (ninth), Europe now have a record-equalling six players among the leading 10.