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Tiger aiming for 4th straight Memorial title

In a career already full of superlatives, Tiger Woods can add one more.

Woods can tie the PGA Tour record for consecutive wins in a single tournament when he competes at the Memorial, a $4.5 million event that begins Thursday at the Muirfield Village Golf Club.

Woods' domination of the event has progressed from a two-stroke win in 1999 to five shots in 2000 to a whopping seven-shot triumph last year. A triumph this weekend would tie Walter Hagen, who won the PGA Championship from 1924 to 1927 and Gene Sarazen, who took the Miami Open in 1926 and from 1928 to 1930.

"As a player you don't really look at winning a tournament four years in a row, because if you're starting out you just want to win one," Woods said. "That's a task in itself. And I've been pretty lucky to have won as many times as I have."

A winner of 31 PGA events, Woods already has won more than $3 million this year with victories at the Bay Hill Invitational and The Masters.

"I'm as amazed about (his play) as you are, that somebody can dominate to the degree he's dominated," said tournament host Jack Nicklaus. "I think it's been fantastic."

Woods always has cleared his schedule to participate in Nicklaus' event and will do so this week even though he competed earlier this week in Europe. He defeated Colin Montgomerie in a three-hole playoff on Monday to successfully defend his title at the Deutsche Bank Open in Germany.

This week, Woods must contend not only with the field but with jet-lag.

"It's not bad, actually," Woods said. "I thought it would be a little bit worse."

Woods also is considering playing in next week's Kemper Open, but will not make a final decision before this weekend.

Woods will have more than one chance to win four straight titles. He won three straight Word Golf Championships-NEC Invitational titles with the 2002 edition scheduled for August in Seattle. Earlier this year, he captured the Bay Hill Invitational for the third year in a row.

The field this week contains six of the top 10 ranked players in the world, including Nick Price of Zimbabwe.

Price captured the Colonial last week for his 17th career PGA title and first since the 1998 St. Jude Classic. The 45-year-old is enjoying a rebirth of sorts with six top-10 finishes in 10 starts this year.

Some of the world's top 10 players are trying to bounce back from disappointing performances last week. Sergio Garcia of Spain and David Duval failed to make the cut at the Colonial and Phil Mickelson was 23rd.

The field includes Vijay Singh of Fiji, who won the Houston Open in March but has just one top-10 finish in his last four tournaments, and South African Ernie Els, who tied for fourth last week at the Colonial to move into the top 10 on the money list with $1,488,791.

Fred Couples won the 1998 event for the last of his 14 PGA Tour titles.

Nicklaus designed the par-72, 7,221-yard course and won the event in 1977 and 1984. He was honored on Tuesday with the opening of the Jack Nicklaus Museum on the campus of Ohio State in Columbus.

The 18th hole has become easier in recent years due to technological advances to equipment, prompting a few changes to challenge the golfers. A second bunker has been added to the dogleg turn at the right edge of the fairway and a stream has been re-routed closer to the fairway.

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