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Tiger's focus still squarely on major record
March 24, 2011

Amid all his struggles on and off the course for the last 16 months, Tiger Woods has unwaveringly kept one eye on the record 18 major titles accumulated by his fellow American Jack Nicklaus.

This target has been a virtual ‘Holy Grail’ for Woods since he turned professional in late 1996 and remains so—despite his spectacular loss of form while dealing with the break-up of his marriage and the fourth swing change of his career.

“When I first started this (professional golf) at 20 years old, I certainly didn’t think I would be at 14 (majors) by now,” Woods, 35, told Reuters in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

“I am very happy to be where I am at but certainly I want a lot more. It took Jack a very long time, 20-plus years, to get to this point.

“So it takes a career to be able to accomplish what he accomplished and hopefully I can do that (surpass 18 majors).”

Comfortably the best player of his generation and arguably of all time, Woods has slipped to fifth in the world rankings and has not won a tournament since the 2009 Australian Masters.

There is no question he has lost the aura of dominance he enjoyed while piling up his own tally of 14 majors and his game suffered as he tried to repair his deteriorating marriage last year while spending less time at practice than usual.

His divorce from his Swedish wife, Elin Nordegren, was finalised in August, and that same month he embarked on his latest swing change with Canadian coach Sean Foley, the fruits of which are only now beginning to ripen.

“It’s finally starting to come around,” said Woods, who earlier on Wednesday launched his mobile application, ‘Tiger Woods: My Swing’, for the iPhone and iPod touch to help golfers of all skill levels improve their own swings.

“I want to be able to shape shots both ways with different trajectories, and this step has taken a long time.”

Asked if he would consider making future swing changes, Woods replied with a laugh: “I said, back in ’98 and in ’99, that that was the last time I would be changing my swing.

“I am trying to get better each and every day I play golf, and I will always tinker with my swing to get it better. I think that’s just natural. There are always things we can do to get a little bit better. It’s a game that is always changing.”

Woods has long spoken of his desire to “own” his swing, and thereby be able to fix swing problems during tournament play.

“Probably the best ball-strikers that ever lived were Moe Norman, Lee Trevino and Ben Hogan—all with completely different golf swings but they were able to replicate it every time,” he said.

“That’s the whole idea of understanding your game so you can fix it on the fly. I think I’m starting to understand it.”

Woods said his new application, launched by the Tiger Woods Foundation and the mobile platform development company Shotzoom, would give every-day players a chance to improve their own swings, just as he did, through video analysis.

“This is how we, as Tour players, swing and how we make changes in our game,” he said. “It’s so different than being in a hitting bay hitting golf balls to be able to capture real time out on a golf course.

“You hit shots today and then a month from now you might say: ‘Well, I hit the ball really well that day. What was I doing differently?’ Well you can bring that up (on video), and compare and contrast the lines on it, figure out where you’ve been and where you need to get to.

“I’m not going to be with Sean every day working on my golf swing with him but to be able to make sure my swing is heading in the direction that we both want it to go, I use this application to make sure I am making those changes.”

For Woods, the secret to making any golf swing better hinged on matching ‘feel’ with ‘real’.

“What we feel on the golf swing generally is not what we are doing out on the course and that’s when we have problems,” he said. “To make sure that we are heading in the right direction, that’s why we use technology like this.

“To be able to finally marry up those two so you eventually get to a point where what you are actually doing and what you are feeling are one and the same, that’s when you are going to have some pretty dramatic results.”

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