Every year at this time, I start looking forward to the new golf season, and this year is no different. The first tournament of the year on the PGA Tour is of course, The Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Golf Course on Maui, but the first tournament that I always have at the top of my “Must See” list is the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
This tournament is always number one on my list because this is the first place that we see all of the top stars in the game competing in one place at the start of the season. To make it easier for you to understand, it’s the first event of the year that includes Tiger Woods.
If you remember last year, the Tiger Woods/Rory McIlroy “Duel in the Desert” was hyped for a couple of months prior to the tournament, and we all remember what happened. Maybe it will end differently in 2014……!
I can still see it….Nike President, Cindy Davis in a cloud of fake smoke announcing to the world that the then, World’s number one golfer, fresh off a runaway win at the PGA Championship, and the winner of the 2012 Race To Dubai Championship, was going to join Tiger as the new employee at Nike.
I waited with the childish anticipation of Santa Clause for them to tee it up on Thursday, just knowing I was going to see the matchup of a lifetime.
Turns out…Rory could not keep his new clubs in the fairway, and putted so badly that on Friday he put his old putter back in the bag to no avail. Tiger pulled the first of his year-long bone-head moves by removing a plugged ball in a fairway bunker, receiving a two-stroke penalty, and missing the cut by one shot.
Welchman, Jamie Donaldson battled Justin Rose, and Thorbjorn Olesen down the stretch on Sunday for the championship after Tiger and Rory had already flown home to watch the finale’ on television with me. Donaldson would prevail for the victory.
So without further adieu, my letter to Santa Claus!
For Christmas, I would like to have a duel in the desert that features a Sunday Showdown that includes Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Henrik Stenson. In my dream, they are all tied up as they go to the 10th tee on Sunday afternoon. If you like, you can add Justin Rose to this scenario as well.
Thank You, and Merry Christmas!
Tiger Woods is fresh off a five-win season, and after getting beaten by a lucky shot from Zach Johnson at the Northwestern Mutual Golf Challenge, should arrive in Abu Dhabi ready to compete. Henrik Stenson, like Tiger, finished in second place at the Thailand Golf Championship, losing by four strokes to Sergio Garcia, and his girlfriend caddie. The big Swede will be ready.
Last but not least, Rory McIlroy. After a horrible 2013 season, Rory looked to be back on-track by the end of the season, and should be back on his game when he gets to Abu Dhabi.
I hope eveyone out there has a very safe and Merry Christmas this holiday season. If Santa Claus will do his part, golf fans will have a great start to the 2014 season, and treat us to a real “Duel in the Desert”
You can follow Les on Twitter @Spin_47 and in the Golf Community at Google+