Woods is human, Els is grateful

Damien McGrane will forever cash in pints of the black stuff about the day he beat his playing partner, one Tiger Woods Esq, although, when the truth be told and the bar drunk dry, the little Irishman will have to admit that it was on a day when almost everyone in the field beat one Tiger Woods Esq. To call this an off-day for Woods would be an understatement. By his standards he positively reeked.

The upshot of his 73 was that four shots separate him from the new leader of the Dubai Desert Classic, Ernie Els. The South African struggled to remember the last time he had bettered Woods's score by a full eight shots. Els's 65 was indeed a great round, but until he finished and watched Woods struggle in, he didn't realise quite how great.

The portents came as early as the very first drive, when Woods located the fairway bunker. True, he did then splash his mid-iron out to five feet, but this piece of magic was not to define his afternoon; the leaked tee-shot and the missed tiddler were. In all, Woods yanked three putts from under five feet.

By then, everyone had been expecting Woods to repair much of the damage with a birdie-birdie finish, but he followed his blip on the penultimate hole with a plop on the 18th. He dumped his approach into the water guarding the green and ended up carding a most unusual number on a par five – six.

It was his first over-par finish in 21 rounds (the last coming in the first round of the Deutsche Bank Championship five months ago) and his first here at the Emirates course in his 19th round. After he had won by eight shots in San Diego last week and begun here like a legend possessed,this display was the last thing anyone was expecting. Least of all himself.

To his credit, Woods was, as always, prepared to front up to the media. When you have won six of your last seven strokeplay events, come second in the other and in this time posted a remarkable scoring average of 66.75, you can probably excuse yourself one sloppy round. But not the Tiger. "It's not good enough," he barked. "I didn't hit the ball close enough on the greens. But I'm not out of it."

Els knows that only toowell. His swing appeared more effortless than it has for manya year and, blessedly, the smile returned to a countenance that has looked worryingly vexed of late. The 10th summed up his magnificence. A five-wood was struck 266 yards to within afew feet, and the eagle was followed by a run of three birdies in seven holes.

"I thought at the start I probably needed two 64s to have half a chance," said Els, "but I still think I need another really low one tomorrow. I can't see Henrik and Tiger and the other guys not shooting low."

Henrik is Stenson, the defending champion, who fired a 67 to lie one behind Els at 10 under. The Swede has two second places in the past two weeks to his ever-more imposing name and may well be the most likelyvictor. Saying that, England's Lee Westwood's form has been almost as purple, and at eight under he is far from done.

But what of McGrane? He came back well in his 72 to remain at seven under, and so the player ranked 319th earned himself the right to tee it upfor the second day running with the world No 1. But it can't all happen again. Can it?

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine