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Focus no longer totally on Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods seeking history at PGA

Tiger Woods aims to carve out another slice of golf history this week as he hunts his third major victory of the year at the U.S. PGA Championship on a course that could not set up better for him.

Damp conditions have made the par-70, 7,392-yard classic layout at Baltusrol Golf Club, which finishes with a pair of par-fives, play even longer with soft fairways that favour prodigious, high-ball hitters like Woods.

"I can see why a lot of people love this place, because it's fair," the U.S. Masters and British Open champion told a news conference on Tuesday.

"I mean it's one of the old-school golf courses where it's just right in front of you," he added of a heavily bunkered A.W. Tillinghast design that offers no extreme slopes on fairways or greens.

"There are no hidden tricks. There are no elephant burial grounds that we have to play now on some of the golf courses. It's just right in front of you."

A unique place in golf history lies in Woods's sights as he sets out to become the only professional to twice win three of the game's four majors in a season.

He won the U.S. Open, British Open and U.S. PGA Championship in succession in 2000 to match fellow American Ben Hogan's triple in claiming the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open crowns in 1953.

A serious student of golf history, Woods relishes the idea of repeating the feat at Baltusrol, where his idol Jack Nicklaus won U.S. Open titles in 1967 and 1980.

While Woods's exploits in 2000 created a frenzy as he pulverised rivals in winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by mind-boggling 15 strokes and the British Open at St Andrews by eight, his great run this season has barely kicked up a stir.

"I think it's just that the novelty factor is not there any more. I've already done it," he said.

However, there would be a fuss this week like no other had Woods been a few strokes better at this year's U.S. Open at Pinehurst, where he finished runner-up, two shots behind New Zealander Michael Campbell.

Occasional showers and a humid overcast have left Baltusrol's famed Lower Course soft, with tee balls leaving ball marks on the fairways. Very little roll is available to help the shorter hitters get into position to fire at the flags.

"You're going to have to drive the ball well. You're going to have to drive it long," said the big-hitting Woods.

"Long does help in the fairway here, more so than most golf courses, because it's 7,400 yards. How often do you play within the first three holes two par-fours at over 480 yards? That's kind of a wake-up call right out of the gate."

Not to mention the 650-yard, par-five 17th which is the longest hole in major championship history.

Woods believes he has improved his game since 2000, adding between 20 and 30 yards off the tee, improving his iron play under the coaching of new swing coach Hank Haney and gaining wisdom in course management.

"I don't want to go back to 2000. I want to become better than that," he said, insisting he is never satisfied.

"You never get there, and that's the great thing about it. You can always be better the next day. That's how I look at golf and how I look at life. You can always, always be better."


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