Weeks: Without major, Tiger still happy with season so far

Bob Weeks
8/6/2013 6:04:35 PM
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ROCHESTER, NY -- By anyone else's standard, Tiger Woods has had a career season so far. Five victories, two of them World Golf Championship events along with the Players.

You need a pretty sturdy mantle piece to hold the hardware from those events.

It's the 10th time Woods has won at least five tournaments in a single year. To put it in perspective, Hunter Mahan, Tom Lehman and John Daly each has a total of five wins in their career. Stephen Ames, one of Canada's most successful players, has four.

Great players all, but we definitely hold Tiger to a higher standard and he holds himself to that as well. For many years, Woods stated that no matter how many times he lifted trophies, if one of those wasn't a major, it simply couldn't be classified as a great year.

Yet on Tuesday, when asked to assess his season so far, Woods seemed to soften that stance. It's hard to dispute his assessment, but it did signal a shift in his thinking.

"I think winning one major championship automatically means you had a great year," said Woods Tuesday after an intense session on Oak Hill's back nine where he methodically dissected each green. "Even if you miss the cut in every tournament you play in; you win one, you're part of history. This year, I think it's been a great year so far for me, 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."

Pretty good indeed. He's also leading the World Ranking, the PGA Tour money list and the FedEx Cup standings. He has the best scoring average on Tour and also is atop the All Around category, essentially a summary of the top stats.

But there is no major. He might have another Green Jacket if he hadn't rung one off the post at Augusta National in April.

And last month, he might have raised another Claret Jug if he'd been able to figure out Muirfield's greens on the weekend.

Those aren't the only times in his 17-tournament winless drought that he's come close.

"I've had, certainly, my share of chances to win," said Woods, who has been stuck on 14 majors since the 2008 U.S. Open. "I've had my opportunities there on the back nine on those -- probably half of those Sundays for the last five years where I've had a chance, and just haven't won it.  But the key is to keep giving myself chances, and eventually I'll start getting them."

Woods said trying to get major No. 15 has been frustrating, especially after the first 14 seemed to come so easily and relatively frequently. While he has endured his own struggles with injuries and swing changes, the rest of the golf world has raised its game. Since Woods last won a major, there have been 18 different winners, 14 of them first-timers. Players are simply ready to win big events at an earlier age and younger players are no longer intimidated seeing Woods' name up on the leaderboard.

But ever the optimist, the world's top players feels this week just might be the one where it all comes together.

"Overall, I feel very pleased with where my game is at," said Woods, who tied for 39th the last time the PGA Championship visited Oak Hill in 2003. "I've played well in the last two tournaments I've played in, especially coming off a little bit of an injury at The Open and coming back and really played well in the last two tournaments, I'm very pleased about that."

Whether all that translates into a win here won't be determined until Sunday night. At that point, with the majors done, Woods and the rest of the world will assess his year and decide if it's a great one or not.

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