Dubai Classic: Familiar problems beset Woods

Thursday, March 01, 2001
The problems of being Tiger Woods - and of playing just behind him - were apparent the moment the Dubai Desert Classic began after a two-hour fog delay.

As the world number one was about to play his second shot of the opening round a camera click was heard just yards from him and he did well to abort his swing.

Caddie Steve Williams gave the offending photographer a tongue-lashing after Woods had gathered himself again and pulled the shot into a greenside bunker.

That was no bad place to be on the 549-yard 10th, but his recovery only just made the fringe and after leaving his chip four feet short he was happy to walk off with a par.

Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington made up the group behind and just as Montgomerie was preparing to hit his second to the 10th two fans following Woods ducked under the ropes and ran across the front of the green.

Montgomerie, starting his bid to win back the European Order of Merit title after his seven-year reign was ended by Lee Westwood last season, also backed away and had to re-group.

He too failed to birdie the hole, but while Woods only parred the next two holes as well Montgomerie birdied the short 11th.

Clarke and Harrington matched the American's opening, which left them all three behind the early pacesetter, Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara.

A graduate from last year's "second division" Challenge Tour, 23-year-old Lara collected birdies on the 10th, 11th and 14th after also setting off on the back nine.

He was one in front of Welsh playing partner David Park, Frenchman Jean-Francois Remesy and Dubliner Paul McGinley, who eagled the 550-yard 13th.

Westwood was among the afternoon starters unlikely to finish their rounds before nightfall because of the hold-up.