Dubai: World No 1 Tiger Woods was left to rue missed opportunities after hitting 70 in the third round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club on Saturday.
The 14-time Major winner, who had earlier followed up an opening round of 68 with a disappointing 73, now stands at five under par for the tournament, tied for 37th in the leaderboard, 11 strokes off the lead.
Having cancelled out two birdies with two bogeys on his front nine, Woods, 38, could only console himself with two birdies on his return. But unlike Friday, where Woods said his drive had let him down, it was his short game which let him down on Saturday.
“I wasted a lot of opportunities out there today,” said Woods. “Today was an easy opportunity for me to get to -10. I only had a couple of bad shots but I missed a ton of putts.”
After missing the secondary cut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines with a shock 79 last week, Woods had looked to the Desert Classic for redemption. But it seems his season may take longer to take off.
“I’m pleased because it’s progressing, slowly,” said Woods of his early season form. “Unfortunately, I’d like it to come a little quicker but I’m going to have some ups and downs. I’m going to have some bumps in the road.”
Meanwhile, Woods’ close friend Fred Couples defended the star’s form and called for the media to reserve their judgement until the Majors.
“Is he playing at his best? No. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out,” said Couples. “But he’s always got his steps going and if he gets to the Majors and he’s not playing good in those I would be shocked.
“You can get burnt out by practicing too hard, so you have to pay attention to that and I think he’s a smart guy. He’s not going to kill himself and go out and hit balls for four hours.
“You’ve got to give him a little room and come Sunday night at the Majors if he doesn’t play well, then you can say well he’s not doing this or his swing is not right – but it will be right.”