Tiger Woods targets critics as wins keep coming
Tiger Woods took aim at his detractors after clinching a third PGA Tour victory in his last seven starts to move to second on the all-time list.
Woods beat Bo Van Pelt to the AT&T National title at Congressional for his 74th PGA Tour win, one more than Jack Nicklaus and eight short of Sam Snead’s longstanding record.
The 14-time Major champion’s troubles have been well documented since his private life unraveled in 2009 and that, coupled with injury, loss of form and changes to his swing prompted many to declare his best days were behind him.
However, Woods insisted he never lost faith in his ability and revelled in his mini-resurgence by making that clear to his critics.
“I remember there was a time when people were saying I could never win again. That was, what, six months ago,” said Woods, who remains fourth in the world rankings.
“A lot of media people didn’t think I could win again, and I had to deal with those questions for quite a bit. It was just a matter of time. I could see the pieces coming together.”
The American also triumphed at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Memorial this year, with his win in the former ending a two-and-a-half-year drought on the PGA Tour.
And Woods can only see more good times ahead, adding: “Sean (swing coach Sean Foley) and I were working, and we see what’s coming, and we can see the consistency, and it’s just a matter of time. If you look at my
ball-striking so far this year, it’s gotten more and more consistent.”
Woods, though, wasn’t prepared to predict victory at the Open, which gets under way at Royal Lytham & St Annes later this month.
The 36-year-old hasn’t won a Major since the US Open four years ago and, he as well as anyone, knows that the only way to truly silence the doubters is to lift another ‘big four’ trophy.
Asked whether he thinks he can win the Claret Jug for a fourth time, Woods said: “It’s going to be totally different shot making and prep. It’s a totally different game playing links golf. But I still have to have the ability to get the ball up in the
air. That’s something that we’re going to work on.”
At Congressional, the former world No.1 shot a final round of two-under-par 69 to finish at eight-under 276, two strokes clear of the field.
With two holes to play, he was neck and neck with Van Pelt but his rival couldn’t hold it together, bogeying twice to gift Woods the title.
And having passed one legend in Nicklaus (left), he quickly set his sights on knocking Snead off his perch.
“I’ve had a pretty good career,” he said.
“To do it at 36, I feel like I have a lot of years ahead of me.
“It feels great to get to 74 wins and obviously pass Jack. It’s something I’m very proud of."