Tiger Woods still driven to win
SAN DIEGO -- With an 80th PGA Tour victory next on his list of accomplishments, Tiger Woods makes his first start of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season on Thursday at Torrey Pines.
And yet the major championships are never far from his mind.
FARMERS INSURANCE OPEN
• Defending champion: Tiger Woods
• Tee times, leaderboard
• Experts' picks | FOREcaster
• Venues: Torrey Pines Golf Course -- South, par-72, 7,568 yards; Torrey Pines -- North, par-72, 6,874 yards
• Location: La Jolla, Calif.
• TV coverage: Thu. & Fri., 3-7 p.m. ET, Golf Channel; Sat. 1-2:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. ET, CBS; Sun. 1-2:30, Golf Channel, 3-6:30 p.m. ET, CBS
• Monday qualifiers: Chris Riley, Chris Smith, Will Strickler, Riley Wheeldon
• Payout: 156-man field with winner making $1,098,000 of $6.1 million purse
• Format: 72-hole stroke play with 36-hole cut to low 70 and ties.
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It didn't take long for that subject to come up Wednesday in a news conference at the Farmers Insurance Open, where Woods will play his first official round of the new season Thursday.
Given his lengthy stretch (more than five years) without a major title and the seemingly favorable major venues (he's won at three of them and finished runner-up at the other) in 2014, it was suggested this is a big year for him.
"I view it as every year's a big year," Woods said. "Every year that I get a chance to compete and play in tournaments and major championships for as long as I decide to do it, every year's a big year, every year counts.
"Looking back from the beginning of my career to now, I know that I don't have 20 years in my prime. ... But the outlook is still the same. I still prepare the same, I still work my tail off to be ready to compete at this level and beat everything that I'm playing against."
Woods, who turned 38 on Dec. 30, was presented the Jack Nicklaus Award as 2013 player of the year by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. Although Woods did not capture a major last year, he did win five times on the PGA Tour -- the 10th time he has done so -- to run his career victory total to 79. That puts him just three wins behind Sam Snead's record.
He will try to get one closer by defending his title at Torrey Pines, a place he has won at eight times. A ninth victory would set a tour record for victories at the same venue. Among his eight wins here is the 2008 U.S. Open.
That, of course, was his 14th and most recent major victory. Much has happened to Woods since, including another swing overhaul that has yet to produce the desired results in the game's biggest tournaments.
There were two top-six finishes in majors last year, but also two lackluster performances.
Raising expectations even more this year is the fact Woods has won four Masters at Augusta National, as well as the last Open Championship played at Royal Liverpool (2006) and the last PGA Championship played at Valhalla (2000). Woods also was second at the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, as well as third at the same venue in 1999.
Woods noted that the course conditions at Torrey Pines skewed more toward the difficulty of the U.S. Open than what he normally sees during the regular tour event.
"The rough is thick, it's a little more lush than we've seen it with these green conditions," he said. "We've seen it like this when it's wet but not when it's like this. This is very similar to an Open."
Woods is grouped for the first two rounds with reigning rookie of the year Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker, who has won twice in the new season. They tee off at 1:40 p.m. ET on the South Course on Thursday.