Majors As Difficult As Ever To Win, Says Woods

It has been five frustrating years for Tiger Woods since he won the most recent of his 14 major titles but the world number one says nothing has changed for him in the way he approaches golf's biggest events.

It has been five frustrating years for Tiger Woods since he won the most recent of his 14 major titles but the world number one says nothing has changed for him in the way he approaches golf's biggest events.

Asked by reporters at Merion Golf Club on Monday whether the major challenge had been easier for him during his glory days in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Woods simply replied: "No."

He paused as he sat on the stage in a jam-packed media interview room before being prodded to expound.

"It wasn't ever easy," said Woods, who is a heavy favourite going into this week's U.S. Open, the second of the year's four majors. "I felt it was still difficult because the majority of the majors, three of the four always rotated.

"It was always on a new site each and every year. Augusta (venue for the Masters) was the only one you could rely on from past experiences. A lot of majors that I won were on either the first or second time I'd ever seen it, so it was never easy.

"The practice rounds are imperative. Doing scouting trips are very important, just like it is for this week. I had to do all that stuff. But then I have to go out and execute and go out and win an event."

A three-times U.S. Open champion, winner of 14 major titles and four wins this season on the PGA Tour, Woods is the greatest player of his generation and arguably the best of all time.

He said winning never gets old.

"It's still the same. It's still about winning the event. That's why I played as a junior, all the way through to now, is just to try to kick everyone's butt. That to me is the rush. That's the fun. That's the thrill.

"And it's been nice to be a part of the mix for 17 years now out here, be a part of a lot of great duels and a lot of great battles. That is why I prepare, why I lift all those weights and put myself through all that."



Woods looked very relaxed and was in good humour for most of his pre-tournament news conference, at one point breaking into a broad grin when his 22-year-old niece, Cheyenne Woods, working at Merion this week for a TV outlet, asked him what he did off the course to relax during a major.

"Didn't expect that," Woods replied. "Well, off the course, we have a great crew at the house and we're going to have fun. Tomorrow, is it 6:30 dinner? Is that all right? Okay. Perfect.

"I just relax, have a good time and get away from it. When it's time to play, it's time to play. When it's time for me to get ready, I'll get ready."

Cheyenne Woods knows her way around a golf course having turned professional last year after graduating from Wake Forest, recording her first victory in the paid ranks at the SunCoast Ladies Series in August.

The atmosphere became a little tense when Woods was asked about his encounter with Sergio Garcia on the practice range at Merion on Monday.

After a brief exchange, the pair shook hands in their first meeting since Spaniard Garcia made a "fried chicken" reference directed at Woods last month at a European Tour awards dinner. Garcia has since apologised in a statement.

"We didn't discuss anything," Woods said of the Merion meeting. "He just came up and said, 'Hi.' And that was it."

Asked whether Garcia had apologised for the 'fried chicken' jibe, which is viewed as a racial stereotype, Woods replied: "No. It's already done. We've already gone through it all. It's time for the U.S. Open and we tee it up in two days."

Par is usually accepted as a good score by players at U.S. Opens where the ability to grind and stay patient is a prized commodity on layouts typically running firm and fast, and flanked by thick rough.

However, Woods is not sure that will be the case this week in rain-softened conditions on a course measuring only 6,996 yards off the back tees at the 113th U.S. Open starting on Thursday.

"I don't think we have an exact feel for it yet, what we're going to have to do and what we're going to have to shoot,' said Woods, who is winless in the majors since his extraordinary playoff victory over Rocco Mediate at the 2008 U.S. Open.

"The conditions keep changing. We haven't dealt with teeing it up in a tournament yet with it raining and drying out for a couple of days and the mud balls appearing.

"That's going to be interesting."