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Tiger on World No. 2

Understatement of the year — Tiger Woods on his second win of the [photopress:woods_1_2_3.jpg,full,alignright]season in two starts:

“It’s the ideal start, isn’t it?” Woods said. “You play to win. So far, I’ve done that this year.”

Which is exactly what Woods did shooting 31 on the back nine and carding a 65 despite struggling in Dubai on Saturday. Ernie Els, who held the lead heading into Sunday after shooting 65, looked like the Els who has searched for his game since the knee injury — unable to pull out all the stops to win, muffing some putts and dunking one in the drink on the par-5 closer.

[Els] started the final round with a one-shot lead over Henrik Stenson and was four shots clear of Woods. The 38-year-old South African missed par putts inside 5 feet on the 11th and 12th holes to lose the lead, but he still had a chance to force a playoff with a birdie on the par-5 18th. Instead, Els hit 5-wood that came up well short and ended up in the water.

He finished with a bogey for a 71 and tied for third with Louis Oosthuizen.

“The second shot on the 18, it was right where I had it, but I could see the gust got it in the air and it didn’t have much of a chance in the end there,” Els said.

In truth, it looked more like Els was the one that didn’t have a chance and you couldn’t have blown him over with a gentle breeze after the ball found the drink on the last hole. He looked beaten — clear in the perspective that he can’t beat Woods.

Most impressive thing about golf in Dubai? The cranes in the distance behind many of Woods’ shot, all apparently building the city in the desert. Apparently there are 30,000 in Dubai. These guys know their oil supply will end and they want to be left with more than just Henrik Stenson.

The biggest guffaws — nudge, nudge, wink, wink — came when Woods was asked on the Golf Channel about the fact that the difference in the world rankings between himself and Phil Mickelson was greater than the difference between No. 2 Mickelson and the player ranked 1000, Woods replied: “I thought Poulter was No.2.”

Snickers all around.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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