After a Moving Day curiously lacking in forward momentum, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic looks to be poised on the brink of a manic conclusion. As the leaders struggled to make headway against an unpredictable crosswind, large numbers of the chasing pack found themselves drawn back into contention. As of round’s end 25 players lie within four shots of the lead.
Of those, Tiger Woods’ name can’t but stand out. A level-par 72 (four bogeys and a double, four birdies and an eagle), in which he managed to spectacularly overcome a near-catastrophic start and arguably some of the worst ball-striking of his career, leaves him one behind the leading group of Anders Hansen (71), Rory McIlroy (75) and Thomas Aiken (terrible hair). The improvement in Woods’ demeanour as the round progressed was marked and, from the perspective of his fellow competitors at least, ominous.
Early on, the day had looked very much like being that of another wayward talent, one Sergio Garcia. Though he began the round with his first bogey of the tournament, a couple of quick-fire birdies saw him race to a three-shot lead at the turn. A back-nine of 41, however, including a double-bogey at the innocuous-looking penultimate hole, saw that lead thoroughly erased. The demons it appears, are yet to be fully exorcised.
Round of the day was unquestionably that of Alvaro Velasco; his seven-under 65 saw him launched up the leaderboard into a tie for fourth.
Who’ll emerge from tomorrow’s dogfight with trophy in hand is anyone’s guess.