Tiger Woods has narrowly failed to regain a top 10 world ranking, after he dropped off the pace at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
The 36-year-old golfer went into the final day at Abu Dhabi with a share of the lead – Englishman Robert Rock and Woods were tied at the top of the leaderboard. However, Woods finished two shots off the lead and tied for third, as the little-known Rock took the title.
Woods has still risen in the rankings following Abu Dhabi, from 25th to 17th. That’s a significant improvement from the start of January, when he was outside the world top 50. Abu Dhabi winner Rock, meanwhile, moves from 117th to 55th.
Rock edged out U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy by a shot. A clutch of players followed in third, including Woods (72 on the day), Thomas Bjorn (68) and Graeme McDowell (68). Woods, who is returning from from a two-year drought brought on by injuries and widely reported personal turmoil, felt his game on the final day had been off in more than one department:
“Today I just didn’t give myself enough looks at it. Most of my putts were lag putts. I didn’t drive the ball in as many fairways as I should have … It was a day I was just a touch off the tee and consequently I couldn’t get the ball close enough.”
Yet the 14-time major champion does sense progress is being made, and his return to the world top 20 would appear to be evidence of this. Woods added:
“There’s plenty of big events to go, but I’m pleased at the progress I’ve made so far. I just need to keep building, keep getting more consistent, and today was a day where I putted beautifully. Just didn’t give myself enough looks.”