So, after the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where does Tiger Woods stand in pursuit of his quest for more Majors?
It seems that these days a ‘Tiger Woods progress report’ is needed after each and every round. In years gone by you merely had to regurgitate the list of superlatives, change the name of the title he’d just won and cut and paste his records, increasing the number by one according to his latest victory.
Times have changed, but the Woods story is now an even more fascinating one, in many ways. Watching Woods work his way back is intriguing and although he’s still a way off his best form, he looks determined enough in his work to create a swing that he hopes to take him past Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 Majors.
The Woods of old would have won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship from Saturday’s position. His level-par 72 on a Sunday was not what we would have expected ten years ago, but much has happened since and deep down, though he may not admit it, his performance over the four days would have given him more confidence ahead of the US Masters in April. The way he hung in was admirable, demonstrating that he still has that mental strength to return a decent score even when he has not got his A-game. It’s a skill only the very best have.
Some critics were quick to label his victory at the Chevron World Challenge, as a meaningless one given the small field. However, no-one should underestimate what he would have taken from the way he reeled in Zach Johnson on the final two holes, under what was real pressure given his two-year winning drought.
On Sunday he cut a dejected figure during the prize giving, merely because he knows he could have won, albeit not at his best. Before Abu Dhabi much of the talk had been about Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy, not just Woods.
In the end only McIlroy got the better of him, aside from Robert Rock of course. With all due respect to Rock, he won’t stand in the way of Woods’ Major quest. McIlroy and co no doubt will, but Woods’ biggest obstacle is himself, and on the evidence of things in Abu Dhabi, he’s making progress. For Golf Monthly, he leaves the Middle East with a B-. Good but could do better, a lot better by his very own high standards. Roll on The Masters!