After missing the cut in back-to-back majors and slumping to 278th in the world rankings, golf superstar Tiger Woods heads into the 97th PGA Championship talking of relatively modest goals.
The 14-time major champion, who has spent his career looking for a win every time he tees it up, spoke Tuesday about finding the consistency he needs just to put himself into contention.
“I don’t know my exact ranking right now,” Woods said as he prepared for the final major of 2015, which tees off at Whistling Straits on Thursday.
“I know I’m in the 200s somewhere. But as far as paying attention to it, no.
“I’m just trying to get better. I’m just trying to get up there where I can win tournaments, get my game organised so I can be consistent on a tournament basis where I’m going to give myself a chance to win each and every event I play in.
“That’s what I have done over most of my career. And I’d like to get to that point again where I could do that.”
Woods has lifted the PGA Championship trophy four times and recalled his first victory, at Medinah in 1999, as pivotal.
It was his second major title – after his 1997 Masters triumph – after which he had embarked on the first reconstruction of his swing.
“I just remember when I won that PGA in ’99 the sense of relief because of how hard I had worked to get to that point all over again,” Woods said.
That victory, however, was just one of his eight on the US tour that year – a drastic contrast to his fortunes in 2015.
Woods, 39, has missed the cut in three of his nine starts this year, including at the US and British Opens.
He shot an 82 in Phoenix and an 85 at the Memorial, his worst pro rounds, and admits he never thought it would take so long to put things together after his 2014 back surgery was followed by swing changes he has yet to fully dial in.
Without a solid showing at Whistling Straits to boost his chances of making the US PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs, Woods could find himself finishing a disappointing season on a low note.
“I don’t look at it that way,” Woods said.
“I’m just looking at getting my game better for years to come.
“If I play well, I’ll play in tournaments. If I don’t, then I have more time to practice and get ready for the following events, for the next season and what I do on a global level.”
Woods has noted that a harsher spotlight shines on his struggles, with peers and pundits weighing in on how he might best turn things around.
Woods says he tunes out the unsolicited advice.
“They can only describe from their own experiences. And not everyone has gone through what I’ve had to go through.” Woods said.
“I have some people that are very close to me that have really helped me over the years and that I trust. And I think that’s probably the biggest thing is the trust factor.”