Abu Dhabi: Tiger Woods took aim at "grainy greens" after a round one score of two under par 70 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship yesterday.
Despite birdying holes four and 11, in an all-star pairing with Rory McIlroy (five under 67) and Luke Donald (one under 71), the 14-time Major champion was a little subdued by his start-of-season round.
Woods said: "I hit the ball well all day. It was a good ball-striking round, but I had a hard time reading the greens out there. The greens were pretty grainy and I just had a hard time getting a feel for it. Toward the end I hit some pretty good putts but overall I got fooled a lot on my reads."
"They are grainy enough where I just didn't quite read them right, and I hit them good, and then the grain would take it, not take it. It was just difficult. I think my speed was off because I just didn't quite have it right," he said.
"It's harder to read them when they are grainy. It's a little bit easier when its just pure bent or poa [types of grass]. But these have a little bit of grain. I hit a lot of good putts after I saw someone hit a putt, but other than that it was just a little bit more difficult than it should have been."
McIlroy, who holed three consecutive birdies at the start of his round with a further four split by two bogeys, supported Woods' claims: "I've always struggled on the greens here as well. I think it's because of the grain. There's quite a lot of grain but it's not very apparent. The green doesn't change colour that much or the holes don't get as damaged as they do in Florida or somewhere like that."
"I've been able to hole my fair share of putts around here the last couple of years, so I feel like I'm getting used to them."
Donald, whose birdies on one and 18 were marred only by a bogey on seven, said: "I'm trying to take advantage of the opportunities on the green. I'm probably in my 30s on putts and thats too many for me.
"Maybe Tiger and I didn't take advantage of the opportunities we had on the greens. Certainly I had some opportunities for 15 to 20-footers — you don't expect to make too many of those but I would have liked to have made just a couple more. It just goes to show the course is playing pretty tough."
Grain is the direction in which grass runs, Luke Donald explained at a golfing clinic at the HSBC Interactive Village.
"Usually you follow the slope, that's the general rule of grain. Downhill, if you look at it, it will look shinier and will run faster. Into the grain its going to be darker," Donald said.
"Obviously when you get cross-grain its going to make the ball go one way or the other a little bit more. Grain is just an added thing to think about, so it makes it difficult."