Bullish Tiger Woods has no intention of becoming a ceremonial golfer | Ewan Murray

Golf would enjoy a Tiger Woods renaissance, which the 14 -times major champ, against all odds, reckons is still plausible

Much has changed in Tiger Woods since his years of dominance were objective by drama and trauma but his mindset is one thing that remains. In Dubai on Wednesday, as he prepared for the rarity of a second tournament in as many weeks, he insisted he has no intention of becoming a ceremonial golfer.

The 14 -times major champ is also not of a mind for quiet reflection. I try not to go down that route because I like to consider myself a player and a guy that is playing out here and vying, he told. I know Ive been away from it for a long period but that just got me thinking about other business opportunities. So as far as the golfing side of it, I know Ive accomplished some pretty neat things over the course of my career and I hope I can continue.

Woods will begin the Dubai Desert Classic on Thursday ranked 666 th in the world. Building the cut would be progress. No, responded Woods when asked if his tournament purposes have receded. Because if Im teeing it up, the goal is to win it and that doesnt change. Whether Im injured, coming off an injury or Im playing well, or Im playing poorly, if Im in the event, its to win.

His bullish posture is understandable, but more intriguing was Woods response to whether he would remain on tour if he was only ever likely to finish in the top 20 rather than win.

Its about preparation, he told. If I cant prepare to win a tournament, I feel ill-prepared to reached the shootings and handle the shootings down the stretching and Im not able to pull them off at home, theres no reason why I should expect to be able to pull them off out here.

Thats why I take practising so seriously at home. And Ive always used to say over the years; that I would much instead practise than play because I like to have all those shootings. So when I come out here, its not a surprise. Ive pulled off all the shootings. The interpretation was: when that warm-up flexible stops, so does Woodss career.

Woods improved on the back nine of the Desert Classics pro-am, his driving previously wayward. He did at the least have lack of sleep as an extenuating circumstance. My mother called me about two in the morning, woke me up, and asked me how I was doing, Woods told. I told: Mom, you realise theres a nine-hour time change?

The Woods circus here has been quite a sight at his second tournament since returning to the PGA Tour after a lack of 17 months . For all he may be clambering back towards competitive relevance, his status remains higher than any other golfer. Even players have sought autograph and Englands Matthew Southgate took to Facebook to post an open letter towards the hero he met at the 2002 Open Championship. Fifteen years later here I am, sat in the Grand Millennium Hotel in Dubai in preparation for that special opportunity us golfers all dream of the week I get to go toe to toe with the Tiger, he wrote.

Tiger Woods plays his second shooting on the eighth pit during the pro-am at the Dubai Desert Classic. Photograph: David Cannon/ Getty Images

How does Woods respond to such adulation? It merely means youve been around a long time. Thats all it entails. Ive been out here actually merely a little over half my life, so when you put it in words like that, its various kinds of easy to ensure why players who are on the younger side, that some were born after I won the[ 1997] Masters, “they il be” out here. Its merely a changing of the guard.

Thomas Bjorn famously conquered Woods in Dubai in 2001 when the American was at the peak of his powers. Europes Ryder Cup captain offered extra insight into the Woods mindset while others swooned. Tiger will very much understand you only get in that posture if youve done something extraordinary, he told. As much as he is determined to get his career back on track, he will also understand what he is to a lot of people.

He will understand all of that; which Jack Nicklaus has been, what Arnold Palmer was, what Seve Ballesteros was. I think he would find it worse if he came out here and nobody cared. That would be a bit more like: Whats happened in the couple of years Ive been gone? I think he actually appreciates it.

Golf would enjoy a Woods renaissance, which he, against all odds, reckons plausible. Ive had lean years where I didnt win, he told. I suppose I have 10 years where I won five or more tournaments but there have also been years where I didnt win a thing and I struggled. I was changing my game and I did not play well.

Jason Day said something pretty funny. We were strolling in the scoring tent last Friday[ at Torrey Pines] and he says: You know, it doesnt actually matter when you win your four tournaments, whether its the beginning of the year or the end of the year. I know we both missed the cut but you win four at the end of the year? People think youve had a hell of a year.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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