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Tiger Woods expects to improve further

Tiger Woods sounded a warning to his rivals after enhancing his remarkable resume with a two-shot victory at the U.S. PGA Championship on Sunday.

Shortly after clinching his 13th major title at Southern Hills Country Club, the world number one said he expected to become a more complete golfer over the next seven years.

Woods believes he is already a better player than seven years ago when he produced one of the greatest runs in golfing history, claiming seven majors in just 11 starts beginning at the 1999 PGA.

"It's just experience," the 31-year-old American told reporters after hoisting the PGA Championship's prized Wanamaker Trophy for the fourth time, and second season in a row.

"Understanding how to handle it and manage my game around the golf course, I have more shots than I did then just because of that many more years to learn them.

"And how to make adjustments on the fly just comes with experience. I'll say the same thing seven years from now, more experienced then than I am now.

"It certainly helps having that experience and having been in that position and have gotten things done in the past. It makes things a little bit easier coming down the stretch."

Long driven by the record 18 majors piled up by his childhood idol Jack Nicklaus, Woods is second on the all-time list with third-placed American Walter Hagen two behind.

He is prepared to bide his time, though, as he continues to pick off major titles roughly once each year.

"When you first start your career, 18 is just a long way away," he said. "And even though I'm at 13, it's still a long way away. You can't get it done in one year.

"It's going to take time. It took Jack 20-plus years to get it done. And hopefully, health permitting and everything goes right and I keep improving, I'll one day surpass that."

Woods, who won his first major title by a record 12 shots at the 1997 Masters, says he has already surpassed his early goals.

"If you would ask me that 12 years into my career would I have had this many wins and this many majors, there's no way," he added. "I've exceeded my own expectations and I'm certainly not against that."

The championship at Southern Hills featured some of the hottest conditions in major history, with temperatures reaching 102 degrees (39 Celsius) during the final round.

The ability to maintain focus for all four days was paramount and Woods believes his renowned fitness has always given him an edge in golf's biggest events.

"Physical fitness is always a huge advantage, especially when you play any sport and you have heat and anything that wears you down mentally and physically," he said.

"When I walked up 18, I felt the same way as I did going off the first tee. I felt great. Other guys may have gotten tired and you see their shoulders slumping and dragging a little bit.

"You should always train hard and bust your butt. That's what a sport is, (it) is to do that. And not everyone considers golf a sport and they don't treat it as such."

Woods already has 10 more major titles than any of his contemporaries. The prospect of an improved, fitter Woods over the next seven years can only enhance his aura of dominance.


August 14, 2007



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