Nothing but wins at Major tournaments on the mind for world number one.
Tiger Woods will once again seek to use his World Challenge tournament as a springboard into a new year that he hopes will see his major championship drought end.
After a 2013 season that included five victories — but no additions to his 14 major titles — the world number one says his goals for the coming season haven’t changed.
“Whatever tournament I play in, the goals are still the same — keep improving.
“I feel like I’ve improved this year over the previous year. Won five times this year, I think that’s a pretty good number. No one (else) did that this year.”
“I certainly wish I could have played a little better in major championships,” added Woods, who shared fourth at Augusta National and sixth at the British Open but wasn’t a factor at the US Open or PGA Championship.
“I was there at the Masters and there at the British certainly with a chance, but just didn’t get it done. The other two I just didn’t play well,” he said.
Woods, chasing the record of 18 major victories by Jack Nicklaus, hasn’t won one of golf’s Grand Slam events since the 2008 US Open.
But he has won on three of 2014’s major courses: Augusta National, British Open venue Hoylake and PGA Championship course Valhalla.
He also has a third place and runner-up finish at US Open host course Pinehurst in the last two editions of the US Open held there, noting his results there were “trending in the right way.”
Woods spoke on the eve of the $3.5 million World Challenge, which he hosts for the benefit of his charitable foundation.
The tournament isn’t part of an official tour but does offer world ranking points and a first prize of $1 million to the winner from an 18-man field that includes Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and defending champion Graeme McDowell, England’s Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter and rising US star Jordan Spieth.
Woods has won the tournament five times, most recently in 2011. That triumph ended a victory drought of more than two years during which personal scandal sensationally saw his marriage end.
There’s a valedictory feel to this year’s event at Sherwood Country Club, the course nestled in rolling hills west of Los Angeles that has hosted all but the first of 15 editions of the event, which next year will be staged in Florida.
“It is going to be emotional. There is no doubt about it,” Woods said. “Sherwood, the board here, all the volunteers that come out and support us … Sherwood has been fantastic over the years.”
Woods said schedule changes, including the evolution of the US PGA Tour playoffs and the European Tour’s Race to Dubai, made it ever harder to lure top players.
He hopes a move next year to Isleworth near Orlando will make it easier for Florida-based golfers to accept invitations.
“It was certainly not an easy decision, but there are a lot of players that are based there in Florida,” he said.
That includes Northern Ireland’s McDowell, who notched his second victory at Sherwood last year to go with his 2010 triumph and a runner-up finish in 2009.
While he will miss Sherwood, McDowell said the move would geographically “work for me.”
“I think it’s also great maybe that this tournament will reinvent itself,” he said. “It always attracts a great field and taking it outside of Sherwood will create a bit of a buzz and a bit of interest.”