Tiger Woods has earned his stripes as one of golf’s greats over the years, but his battle to claw his way back to the top after injury is moving forward in fits and starts.
Woods slumped to a five-over par 77 in the Dubai Desert Classic, a full 12 strokes behind the leader Sergio Garcia.
Meanwhile, he faces an assault on his place at golf’s top table by an army of young pretenders who have grown up with Woods as their hero.
His 14 major wins will always be remembered, but in sport, a champion is only as good as their last contest.
Woods form has collapsed in recent years as he has struggled with personal issues and injury.
First win for youngster
“I was trying to hit shots and I wasn’t doing a good job,” said Woods, a senior at 41 years old.
“I could have shot something near even par if I would have made some putts but I made nothing.
“I wasn’t in pain at all. At the end I finally hit some good ones but the damage had already been done.
Spanish superstar in waiting Jon Rahm is at the head of the queue already knocking on the door to golf’s inner sanctum of greats.
Within a few months of picking up his tour card, Young Lion Rahm has already chalked up his first tournament win at the Torrey Pines PGA.
Ryder Cup target
At 22, he looks the real deal and one to watch for the future, barring injury or disaster.
The win propelled Rahm into golf’s world top 50 at 46, and his meteoric rise is unlikely to stop there.
His target is the next Ryder Cup Team representing Europe in 2018.
“I’ve thought about the Ryder Cup a lot,” he said.
“I so want to play in the matches; who doesn’t? But right now I need to establish myself on the PGA Tour.”
“The next one is in France and that is close to home for me. I will be doing all I can to be there. I will be joining the European Tour at some stage.”