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Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Tiger Woods aims to break through

By Bob Harig
ESPN.com

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- Coming off his best finish at a major championship in three years, Tiger Woods acknowledged Tuesday that while his game has been encouraging, the bottom-line result has been no victories in the game's biggest tournaments for more than four years.

Woods has one more chance this year to add to his total of 14 major championship titles when the PGA Championship begins Thursday on the Ocean Course.

"I'm pleased at the way I was able to play at certain parts of it and at certain times, and obviously disappointed that I did not win," Woods said after an abbreviated practice round that was shortened because of inclement weather. "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. Things have progressed, but still, not winning a major championship doesn't feel very good."

Woods tied for 40th at the Masters, his worst finish in that tournament as a pro. He was tied for the lead at the U.S. Open through two rounds but fell to a tie for 21st. And at the Open Championship three weeks ago, Woods tied for third, his best finish since a second at the 2009 PGA Championship. His last major win came at the 2008 U.S. Open.

Although Woods has won three times this year and leads the PGA Tour money list as well as the FedEx Cup points race, he said last week at the Bridgestone Invitational that "winning golf tournaments makes it successful, but winning majors makes it a great year."

Eight previous years in his career Woods has come to the PGA Championship having not won a major, and he prevailed in 1999 and 2007. He also won the tournament in 2000 and 2006.

As for chasing Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles, Woods, 36, maintains he feels no urgency, despite the longest stretch of his career without a major.

"I figure it's going to be a career," he said. "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. Forty majors (potential chances) is a lot. I've got plenty of time.

"With the training regimes that we have now and seeing guys play well, you can get on the right golf course and contend. You saw what happened with Tom [Watson] being 59 (finished second at '09 Open Championship), Greg [Norman] almost did it at Birkdale (tied for fourth in '08 at 54). So we can play late in our careers, just because of our training and also just getting the right golf course."

Whether the Ocean Course is right for Woods is to be determined. Designed by Pete Dye, it measures nearly 7,700 yards. And as Woods spoke, rain pounded down, which means the course will be soft, something not in his favor.

"I like the test that a firm golf course brings,'' he said. "It just brings more shot-making into the equation. ... You've got to land the ball in the correct spots. With it a little bit softer like this, the greens will be holding. With it being like this, there's no bump-and-run. It's just too soft."

As for Dye-designed courses, Woods said, "A lot of it is visual. There's a lot more room out there, whether it's on the fairways or on the greens, than you think. He just makes you look the other way. And he's a masterful designer in that way."

Woods has not fared particularly well on Dye designs. In his pro career, he has played 18 tournaments on Dye layouts, with just one victory. Included are 15 tries at the TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship, where his lone victory came in 2001. Dye also designed Whistling Straits, the 2004 and 2010 PGA Championship venue.