Date: February 01, 2008

Hend hot on Tiger’s tail

Tiger Woods once again set the pace, but Australian Scott Hend is hot on the world No.1&aposs heels after the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic. Woods, who claimed his 62nd PGA Tour victory at Torrey Pines last week, carded an opening round seven-under-par 65. He leads by two shots from 11 players – including Hend – who enjoyed a round of 67 at the Emirates Golf Club. Hend, ranked 285 in the world, rode the golfing rollercoaster on a frantic day one. He mixed six birdies with a bogey and a double bogey before closing out his round with an eagle on the 18th to tack onto the pack chasing Woods. Hend&aposs compatriot Peter O&aposMalley fired a first-round 68 to be in a share of 13th, while fellow Aussie Marcus Fraser is a further stroke behind. Brendan Jones signed for a 71 while the final Australian in the field, Richard Green, was the only not to break par. He had a one-over-par 73 to be joint 77th. Others to finish at five-under-par with Hend included early pacesetter Pelle Edberg, Hong Kong Open champion Miguel Angel Jimenez, Ireland&aposs Gary Murphy and Northern Ireland&aposs Graeme McDowell. Jimenez joined the group after grabbing a hole-in-one at the par three 170-yard seventh. Defending champion Henrik Stenson, three-time Dubai winner Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia are in a group at four-under-par, with Lee Westwood and Northern Irish prodigy Rory McIlroy a further shot back. Colin Montgomerie, who was playing alongside Woods, finished the day at level par after carding two double-bogeys over his last four holes. While most of the Australian hopes will be pleased with their respective starts, Woods is once again the man to catch. “I played well today, I hit a bunch of good shots. The only bad shot I really hit today was at the par-five 13th, other than that, I really hit the ball well,” Woods said. “I made a lot of putts last week, I didn&apost particularly drive it very well. My iron game was all right but on those bumpy poa greens, for some reason, I made a bunch of putts but they just happened to bump in. They usually bump out.” “I definitely missed a few putts today. I had a couple of good opportunities to make some putts and ran them over the edge but I couldn&apost have asked for a better start.”