Bjorn: ‘Don’t write off Tiger’

Thomas Bjorn claimed the scalp of Tiger Woods again, but says it is far too early to write off the former World No 1.

Thomas Bjorn claimed the scalp of Tiger Woods again last night, but believes it is far too early to start writing off the former world number one.
Without a win now for 15 months, Woods went out in the opening round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play for only the second time in his career, beaten by the 40-year-old Dane just as he was in the 2001 Dubai Desert Classic.
But Bjorn, down at 134th in the world before he won the Qatar Masters and moved into the top 60 and qualified to play here earlier this month, said after his victory at the first extra hole: “There’s a way back for him – and he’ll get there.
“He’s not playing his absolute best, but there were a lot of good swings. His driving was a lot better than it’s been. He’s taking strides.”
Woods, who had caused gasps when he hit almost into the middle of the lake on the Blue Monster’s short third, showed what he is still capable of with a laqst-gasp birdie on the 18th to stay alive for an extra hole.
But he then hit wildly into the desert scrub when they went into sudden death and conceded defeat – one which could result in him falling as far as eighth on the rankings come Sunday night.
And the former world number one could not hide his frustration.
“Disappointing, very disappointing. I had a chance. I had all the momentum going down 18 and just gave it away,” he said.
Of his drive at the final hole, he added: “I was trying to hit a ball in play. The fairway is, what, 200 yards wide, and I can’t put the ball in the fairway. That’s very disappointing.”
Woods will try again at another World Championship in Miami in a fortnight’s time, but after finishes of 44th and 20th in his first two starts this season, the longest barren spell of his life has now reached 18 tournaments.
Peter O’Malley is the only other player to have beaten him in the first round. That was nine years ago.
Defending champion Ian Poulter and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington were also among the opening day losers.
Poulter, two up with six to play, also lost at the 19th to 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink, while Harrington went down to two-time winner Geoff Ogilvy 4&3.
“I really should have shut the match out, to be honest with you,” said Poulter. “He putted me off the golf course. I missed my chances and therefore I’ve been punished.”