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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tiger's Cut Isn't Cutting But...

it looks like his short game and putting are back on track.

Tiger at Dubai

Tiger, Rory, and Stephen Gallacher (he's tied with Tiger after 9) teed off on the 10th hole at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and I've stayed up to watch their first nine. Last year Tiger started at Dubai, missed the cut, then flew to Torrey Pines and won. This year he struck out at Torrey and flew to Dubai, so everybody's wondering if he can win this time.

If he does, it's going to be a struggle. Tiger's driving looks pretty bad -- which isn't always a bad thing, since he's always had a less-than-stellar record off the tee. But his cut isn't working and he doesn't seem confident enough to draw the ball. (On one whole he laid up over 60 yards behind Rory in order to avoid playing a draw.) He isn't very consistent with his irons right now either; he's hit some fat shots from the waste areas.

And yet he's scoring very well, As I'm writing this he's one stroke behind Rory, he's bogey-free and he's capitalized on all the par-5s he's played. (There are 3 of them on the back 9.) He's scrambled as well as I've seen in quite a while, and his putter is working well on the near-perfect (and FAST) greens of the Emirates Golf Club. Again, he's only one behind Rory despite his poor driving.

Meanwhile Rory is also playing well. He too is bogey-free and is one off the lead at -5. Rory's game looks very good all the way through the bag, from driver to putter. Unless Tiger finds the missing pieces to his swing so he doesn't make it so hard on himself, Rory will probably pull away from him.

But Tiger's game is way better than it was at Torrey last week. Although he hesitates to call it "rust," it's beginning to look as if that's his biggest problem so far.

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