Hunt for Majors keeps Tiger Woods focused
World number one fails to replicate this season’s US Tour form in Majors
Tiger Woods plays a shot from the rough on the 18th hole during the final round of the 95th PGA Championship in Rochester, New York, yesterday. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
The traditional red power shirt with its swoosh logo had another outing on a Majors Sunday here at Oak Hill yesterday. Only, for Tiger Woods, it was a case of taking it out of his wardrobe for old times sake; almost ceremonial. Again, just as it has been since he last annexed a Major title in the 2008 US Open, the world number one was a minor character in the drama which unfolded.
Although Woods has dominated the regular US Tour season, winning five times so far and topping the money list and FedEx Cup rankings, he hasn’t managed to replicate that form when it matters most. In the Majors.
And, when he again tees it up in a Major, at next year’s US Masters, he’ll be 38 years of age and – in attempting to add to his 14 career titles in pursuing Jack Nicklaus’s record 18 – perhaps he’ll be mindful that only one player has managed to win five or more Majors after turning 38. That player? Ben Hogan.
Departed Oak Hill
Woods yesterday departed Oak Hill with seven successive one putts in signing for a 70, that left him on 284, four-over. Quite remarkably, Woods – in either the 2003 US PGA or this year’s championship – has never managed to break par on the famed East Course.
He won’t be back at Oak Hill for some time, so that is not too great a concern in that on-going quest to catch Nicklaus. Augusta National is a more favoured hunting ground, although, with almost eight months to go before he drives back up Magnolia Lane, Woods’s more immediate priority will be to recharge for the run-in to the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“We have a long way to go to that (before Augusta) and I have a lot of golf to play between now and then, not just the rest of our season but overseas as well and beginning of next year. We have got a long way to go for that. Now is just like what Phil (Mickelson) said, he is going to take five days off. I will do something similar and get ready for the play-offs and the Presidents Cup,” said Woods.
Long winter wait
Woods was asked if he traditionally found the long winter wait before the next Major, and his next shot at digging into Nicklaus’s record, hard to manage? “The only time it was really hard was going into ‘01, you know. That was really tough because I was asked basically every day and every round for eight months. Is it a Grand Slam? Not a Grand Slam? Are you going to win all four? To hear it for (eight months), and,” adding with some sarcasm, “then I was in a slump, I didn’t win for three tournaments or something like that, so that was a long wait.”
“But most years it’s not so bad. You have got the play-offs here and most of us play overseas towards the end of the year, and then get ready for next year.”
Any concerns about not contending here? “No. As I’ve said, I’ve been there (in contention) in half of them (since his last Major in the 2008 US Open). So, that’s about right. if you are going to be in there in three-quarters or half of them with a chance to win on the back nine, you just have to get the job done . . . it’s more frustrating not being (in contention).
“Having a chance on the back nine on Sunday, I can live with that. It’s always frustrating going out there and I’m grinding my tail off coming in just to shoot even par for the day. And I’m nowhere in it. That’s tough. I’d much rather have it like at Augusta or at the British where I have a chance.”
Still, there was obvious disappointment that he didn’t manage to bring his Bridgestone Invitational form of a week earlier to Rochester. “I put four good rounds (together) last week. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my week (in Oak Hill).
“I didn’t seem to hit it as good and didn’t make many putts until the last few holes (of the fourth round). I didn’t give myself many looks and certainly didn’t hit the ball good enough to be in it.”
You sense that Augusta can’t come around soon enough. For Woods, it really is all about the Majors.