Woods calling all the shots once again
World number one asserts that it would still be a great year without a Major title
Tiger Woods crosses a bridge to the 14th tee during a practice round for the 2013 PGA Championship golf tournament at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York. Photograph: Reuters/Jeff Haynes
Unlike the R&A who used various reasons – but mainly that old chestnut about the green-keeping staff at Muirfield needing the time to prepare the venerable links – to prevent Tiger Woods’ early-morning practice rounds during the recent British Open, there were no such restrictions on the world number one at Oak Hill Country Club yesterday. He was up bright and early, his work done, rather comfortably, before midday. Teeing off shortly after 6am will see to that.
In more ways than one, the old Tiger Woods is back. Calling the shots. Doing it his way.
For much of his career, those dawn raids on one course or another were an integral part of his annexation of Major titles. The early bird and all that . . .
So far, he has amassed 14 Majors, four shy of the record 18 held by Jack Nicklaus, but – following on from his success in Sunday’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, his fifth win of the season – the failure to convert his form from regular events into the Major championships has become an ever-increasing source of wonderment.
Yesterday, ahead of the 95th US PGA Championship, confirmed what everyone already knew (that the 15th Major had proved to be the toughest of all for him to win) yet seemed to take a step back from a long-held view that it is all about the Majors.
On many occasions, Woods has repeatedly claimed that a season could only be great if it included a Major win. As recently as last November, he remarked: “I have had some really good years, but winning a Major championship just takes it to a whole new level.”
With no Major in the bag since his US Open win of 2008, perhaps – just maybe – Woods has started to re-evaluate such a standard. Maybe. He offered this explanation yesterday: “I think winning one Major championship automatically means you’ve had a great year. Even if you miss the cut in every (other) tournament you play in, you win one (Major), you’re part of history. This year, for me, I think it’s been a great year so far, winning five times, and you look at the quality of tournaments I’ve won, a Players and two World Golf Championships in there; that’s pretty good.”
Later, his assertion that it would still be a great year without a Major title was again put to him.
“Having gone five-plus years without a Major, have you adjusted your standards at all in what clarifies a great year?” he was asked.