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Tiger focussed on majors not winning streak

Tiger Woods heads to Dubai to defend his Desert Classic title this week fresh from his seventh straight US PGA Tour triumph, but insists his main focus remains major championships.

Woods now owns a streak of seven consecutive victories in as many starts in US PGA Tour sanctioned events - beginning with the British Open last year at Hoylake.

Only Byron Nelson's amazing 11 straight in 1945 is longer, and Woods said Sunday after his victory in the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines that he was delighted to be in such esteemed company.

However, he said his decisions about where he would appear next on the US tour would have less to do with his chances of extending the streak and more to do with maximizing his chances at the Masters.

"My whole goal is to get ready for Augusta and prepare and make sure my game is peaking towards that," said Woods, who added the PGA Championship to his British Open title last year to take his tally of Major triumphs to 12.

Woods would be back from Dubai in time to play the Nissan Open at Riviera in Los Angeles February 15-18.

Although he has played the event every year as a pro except 2002, when he had the flu, Woods said he wouldn't decide until his Dubai trip was done.

"I'm going to go to Dubai, play over there, come back and see how I feel," Woods said. "It's always hard to get back for some reason over that time zone when I come back. Hopefully I'll come back and play, but we'll see what happens."

Woods bridled at the suggestion that skipping Riviera might be seen as an attempt to protect the streak.

Woods has played the Los Angeles event 11 times without a victory, the most starts in any tournament without a win for him. The closest he has come to a win was in 1998, when he was runner-up to journeyman Billy Mayfair.

"People can say whatever they want," he said. "That's their opinion. They are entitled to it."

While Woods values his seven straight tour victories, he acknowledges that he can't boast a pure winning streak in that timespan, which included runner-up finishes in two Asian tournaments and a loss in the World Match Play prior to September's US defeat in the Ryder Cup.

"If you want to rate it, I think you can't compare four in a row in majors," said Woods, who accomplished that feat when he won the US Open, British Open and PGA Championship in 2000, then added the Masters in 2001.

"There's no comparison in that," he said. "That's what we play for."

Ominously for his would-be rivals, the world No. 1 - who may miss the British Open later this year because his wife is expecting the birth of their first child around then - said after opening his season with a victory that he was playing even better than he was last year.

And he certainly hasn't lost his appetite for winning.

"It's just fun, fun to be there," Woods said. "That's why you bust your butt as hard as you do in practice sessions to get yourself in that position.

"It's like what Jack (Nicklaus) had always said, 'Winning breeds winning,' and the more you win, the more you understand how to do it."

January 30, 2007

 




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