Tiger Woods’ play over the first three rounds of last week’s Abu Dhabi Championship offered the stongest indication yet that the former World Number One is capable of returning to something approaching tournament-winning form.
Commentators, however, remain uncertain quite how to interpret his lacklustre final round.
Unlike the previous three days, throughout which his long game appeared infallible, he struggled from distance and only salvaged a third-place finish by dint of some heroic work around the greens.
In statistical terms, Woods finished two shots shy of victory, but the margin itself is less significant, surely, than the fact he didn’t win.
Should we see Tiger’s improvement as a question of relative progress or – as he’s often framed it – a zero-sum game of absolutes? If it’s the latter, failure simply is, regardless of the manner in which it was achieved.