With the season’s final major on tap, Tiger Woods said he was satisfied with the way his game has progressed over the year. But the 14-time major champion noted he was displeased with going 0-for-2012 so far and looked to break his winless streak at this week’s PGA Championship.
“I'm pleased at the way I was able to play at certain parts of [the most recent majors, the U.S. and British Opens] and at certain times, and obviously disappointed that I did not win,” Woods told reporters Tuesday after finishing a rain-delayed practice round on a soggy Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course. “I've played in three major championships this year, and I didn't win any of them, so that's the goal.
“I was there at the U.S. Open after two days and I was right there with a chance at the British Open,” Woods added. “Things have progressed, but still, not winning a major championship doesn't feel very good.”
Woods had a strong start to the U.S. Open but finished tied for 21st place and he ended up sharing third at Britain’s Open Championship. The difference between his winning and losing at Royal Lytham, he said, came down on Sunday to a single stroke -- the one that put his ball up against the face of a pot bunker on the sixth hole and led to a triple-bogey seven after he chipped out from his knees.
“I was just right there,” he said. “Just one shot that was a yard away, turned that whole tournament around for me.”
While watching his chances of chalking up his 15th major disappear did not sit well with Woods, what does feel good -- although Adam Scott and Jim Furyk might disagree -- is entering the final round of a major with the lead.
“For me in major championships, I loved it. I just loved being there,” he said. “To me it was a chance to be able to make history, to go out the next day and win a tournament. You're part of history.”
For Woods, who has not held the 54-hole lead in a major since he coughed it up to Y.E. Yang at the 2009 PGA Championship, heading into Sunday’s finale as the front-runner is what stokes his competitive fire.
“Is there pressure? Absolutely, and that's the fun of it,” Woods said. “It's fun feeling those nerves, it's fun feeling that adrenaline. That to me is a joy and one of the reasons why I bust my tail and practice, to put myself there, because I just love it.”
Woods, the only three-time winner on tour this year, reiterated that good health has enabled him to practice more, which has boosted his game to the point where he leads the tour in overall scoring and several other categories. He said he liked his chances this week but also claimed he was in no rush to notch his 15th major and chip away at Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.
“I figure it's going to take a career. It's going to take a long time. Jack didn't finish his until he was 46, so if you go by that timetable, I've got 10 more years... I’ve got plenty of time,” said Woods, who, given his training regimen, presumably has 40 more majors to play in the next decade. “We can play late in our careers just because of our training, and also just getting the right golf course. You know, who knows?”
The way things have gone this season, with come-from-behind winners the norm rather than the exception in majors and other tourneys, Woods may have to do something he’s never done if he is to notch No. 15 this week.
“I don’t know,” he said about why he had yet to win a major without holding the 54-hole lead. “It’s one of those things where I just haven’t done it. But I like having 14 of them; that’s not a bad tradeoff.”