November 29, 2012
By DOUG FERGUSON Associated Press
Tiger Woods is more driven to catch Jack Nicklaus than to try to emulate Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy.
Woods made it clear recently that he had no interest in taking up membership on the European Tour. He had floated the possibility last month in Turkey that he would look into dual membership with Europe counting the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup toward the minimum requirement of 13 events.
"I'll make it real simple — I'm not going to play the European Tour next year," Woods said.
Woods is starting next season at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Throw in the four majors and four World Golf Championships, and he would need only three more events to become a European Tour member.
"It's a bit much for me still," Woods said, adding that his focus is squarely on the record 18 majors won by Nicklaus.
Donald last year became the first player to win the money title on the PGA Tour and European Tour in the same season. McIlroy matched that feat this year, even though three of his five wins were regular PGA Tour events.
On the strength of majors and WGC events, which are every bit part of the European Tour schedule as the PGA Tour schedule, Woods could have won both money title at least four times in the last decade if he had been a European Tour member and added a couple of events. Europe used to require only 11 events to be a member.
"Certainly, I've had opportunities over the years, especially when it was at 11 events," Woods said. "I was very close a couple times and could have taken membership up and played it. But still ... I enjoy playing around the world, and I still always will. But I am going to play this tour."
When asked why he never bothered becoming a dual member, Woods said, "It wasn't important to me."
"I think I could have won it a few times," he said of the money titles. "I don't know what that number was. But it just wasn't important to me. My main concern was winning major championships, and I've won 14 of them, and I'm very proud of that."
Asked whether adding a few European events would have detracted from his preparation for the majors, Woods nodded.
He remains stuck on 14 majors, winning his last one in 2008 in the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Woods has failed to win the last 14 majors he has played, the longest drought of his career. Next year's rotation of majors include Merion for the U.S. Open, a course he has never seen, and Oak Hill for the PGA Championship, the only time Woods has played all four rounds at a PGA without breaking par.
Woods said winning a major makes it a great year, which in his mind means that four players had a great year — Bubba Watson (Masters), Webb Simpson (U.S. Open), Ernie Els (British Open) and McIlroy (PGA Championship).
"That's something I haven't done since '08, so it's something I can do next year," he said. "I've won golf tournaments; I've had some really nice years, some really good years in there. But as I said, winning a major championship just takes it to a whole new level."
That doesn't make his year a total loss.
Woods played his most complete season since 2009, and the World Challenge that starts Thursday at Sherwood Country Club will be his 24th week of competition, which includes the Ryder Cup and an exhibition in Turkey.
The only stumble was at Doral, where he withdrew in the middle of the final round when his Achilles tendon flared up on him. He won in his next start, at Bay Hill, and then added wins at the Memorial and AT&T National.
"I'm very excited because last year at this point in time I was still not quite where I wanted to be physically," he said. "I ended up having a little bit of a problem at Doral at the beginning of the year, but did the prudent thing in not playing at the end. This year has been fantastic in that regard. I've felt good. I've played a full schedule for the first time in a very long time, and just very pleased with what I've done overall with my game."