Woods: Only time will tell
Dubai - Tiger Woods believes he is on the right track to end his 15-month winless streak but says he needs more time before he can declare himself back to his best.
Preparing to tee off in the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic on Thursday, the 14-time major champion Woods last hoisted aloft a trophy at the Australian Masters in November 2009.
Shortly after that his life was thrown into turmoil by a sex scandal that wrecked his marriage, shattered his image and saw his golf game suffer as a consequence
A poor start to the year at Torrey Pines, California last month saw Woods arrive in the Gulf still looking for solid confirmation that the radical swing changes he has been working on with coach Sean Foley are bearing fruit.
But he insisted there was no going back for him.
"Certainly it was frustrating that I didn't perform the way I know I could," he said.
"But I've been here before. It takes time.
"I went through a two-year period where I didn't do anything and I went through a year-and-a-half period where I didn't do anything. It takes time to make these changes.
"You don't make changes and just start winning a bunch of golf tournaments. It doesn't work that way. It takes time.
"It was good to have those problems (at Torrey Pines) kind of show themselves under a tournament atmosphere and it was very good to identify and fix it."
Dubai holds happy memories for Woods.
He first played here in 2001, losing narrowly down the stretch to Thomas Bjorn, but recorded outstanding wins in 2006 and 2008 and is a whopping 82 under par for the 20 rounds he has played over the Majlis course at Emirates Golf Club.
He opted not to play in 2009 and last year he was mired in his marriage crisis meaning that he will be playing in the Gulf region for the first time in two years.
That fits his stated intention of playing as much as he can on the international stage.
"I think the schedule will be about the same (for this year). Still playing globally," he said.
"Obviously spending the majority of my time in the States and playing our tour, supporting our tour.
"But I'll still be playing a global schedule."
Woods has been paired for the first two rounds with the two players who have moved ahead of him in the world rankings - Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer - a scenario he says suits him fine.
"I think it's fun," he said.
"The last time I played in a pairing like this was the US Open in 2008 (with Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott), the top three guys and we had a lot of fun. I think tomorrow(Thursday) will be the same."