What an incredible week of golf it was at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship! There was drama till the very last hole before a new champion was crowned in the form of the unflappable Robert Rock — perhaps unheralded, but completely deserving of all the accolades coming his way for beating some of the finest names in the game.
I thought it was a very impressive show by Rock, especially considering the kind of pressure he must be feeling during the round. It is not easy to play with Tiger Woods, and that has got nothing to do with Woods' personality or reputation. I have played with him on several occasions and I can vouch for it that Tiger actually goes out of his way to make you comfortable. What can be intimidating is the number of spectators and cameras following the group.
The key to having a good round when playing with someone like Tiger, or Phil Mickelson in certain parts of the US, is to get off to a good start. The tee shot on the first hole is going to set up the tone for the rest of the round, and that is what Rock did well on Sunday. And when Tiger made early birdies on the second and third holes, the Englishman did the same and kept up with him.
What I really like about Rock is that he is a very relaxed character. He loves living a good life, and he always seems to be enjoying his golf. And I always thought he had a very solid short game. Those are traits which should help him win several more such titles in the future.
The big story of the week was Tiger's start of the season, and even though he did not have the best of the final rounds, he has proved that he is almost back at his very best. The first three days, he was a picture of consistency. I saw him hit balls at the range, and I though his ball-striking was as good as in the finest moments of his career.
Of course, Tiger's aim would have been to win the tournament, but I am sure he would have been very satisfied to have played his way into contention and getting a chance at winning the tournament.
Golf needs Tiger to be back at his best. There is no better proof of the immense drawing power of the 14-time Major champion than the Abu Dhabi tournament. I have never seen a crowd like that in the UAE capital in the six-year history of the tournament.
I was happy with my own effort even though there was a bit of rust here and there. A 24th place is a decent start to the season, and I hit the ball really well. This gives me a lot of confidence for this week's Qatar, and hopefully, I should be at my best when I play the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
Jeev Milkha Singh is a three-time champion on the European Tour