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Tiger Woods relaxing standards for 2009

Winning at least one major title has always been the yardstick for a good year according to Tiger Woods but for 2009 he is prepared to relax his goal.

The American world number one has not clinched a major victory since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, having then been sidelined for eight months while having reconstructive knee surgery.

“This year I think just being able to come back and play and be successful again has been a tremendous step in the right direction,” Woods told reporters at Firestone Country Club on Wednesday.

“If you would have asked me at the beginning of the year before I even played whether I’d have four wins by now, I couldn’t see it because walking 18 holes was going to be a task.”

Since returning to the PGA Tour for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in late February, Woods has triumphed four times in 11 starts, most recently at the Buick Open on Sunday.

“Looking back on it now playing the Match Play, where I was physically then and where I’m at now is just night and day,” the 33-year-old said. “It was hard to kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel, especially when I’m just starting back.

“To win, and not only win but be as consistent as I’ve been the entire year coming back, that’s one of the things I’m probably the most proud of.”

Woods has one more chance to end his major drought for this year, in next week’s PGA Championship at Hazeltine where he was runner-up to fellow American Rich Beem in 2002.

As a 14-times major champion, however, he knows better than any of his peers that the grand slam events require a very different approach from regular tour events.

“You just have to go out there and play,” Woods said during preparation for Thursday’s opening round at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational where he will bidding for a record seventh title.

“You can’t be very aggressive and go out there and try and make birdies on every hole like you can at most tour events. You have to plod your way along and get them when you can.”

Woods turned professional late in 1996 and from his first full season onwards he has had only three years that have failed to produce a major title.

The American sees this week as ideal preparation for the PGA Championship where he will be seeking to lift the Wanamaker Trophy for a fifth time.

“Absolutely this golf course helps,” he said. “This golf course is straightforward, no surprises, right in front of you. It’s hard. Year in and year out this is one of the hardest golf courses we play.”


August 6, 2009

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