Sat, Feb 03, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Clicking cameras leave Woods flustered

AP , DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

The clicking cameras didn't help. Neither did the poor putting.

Tiger Woods had to deal with both on Thursday, and wound up three strokes off the lead after a 4-under 68 in the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club.

"Last week I putted great and today I didn't putt so good," said Woods, the defending champion.

Ross Fisher and Graeme McDowell both shot 7-under 65s to share the lead. Ernie Els, expected to be Woods' main competition, was another stroke back at 66 in a three-way tie for third with Jose Manuel Lara and Jyoti Randhawa.

Woods' problems started on the second hole, where he drove into a row of trees before settling for a bogey. He reclaimed the lost stroke on the par-5 third hole, but he soon encountered another problem on the eighth.

While he was swinging, a group of photographers were snapping pictures, causing the world's top-ranked golfer to send the ball into the long grass on the edge of the fairway.

"Nice going guys, thanks," he said sarcastically.

On the 12th, Woods missed a short putt and took another bogey. He responded by tossing his club onto the ground.

"I left a lot of opportunities out there," Woods said. "I didn't putt well. I didn't put the ball on line with my putts. It was frustrating because the greens are really nice out there. I just have to get some work in here."

Still, Woods started the back nine with a pair of birdies to keep himself in contention.

Woods flew halfway around the world after cruising to win the Buick Invitational on Sunday for his seventh straight victory on the PGA Tour. The Dubai tournament won't affect the streak because it's a PGA European Tour event.

Woods, who denied having jet lag, knows what he needs to do in the next three rounds to reclaim his title.

"Work. Bust my butt. That's how you do it," he said. "I just need to do a little work here around the greens and get my stroke organized."

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