Tiger Woods: My dad would have been proud of my first win in two years
Published 05/12/2011 | 10:19
TIGER Woods thinks his late father would have been proud of him for finally ending more than two years without a win - and especially the way he did it.
Although the Chevron World Challenge was a limited-field non-Tour event, Woods celebrated as though as he had landed his 15th major after grabbing birdies at the last two holes to beat Zach Johnson by a shot.
Next up for the former world number one, who climbed from 52nd to 21st in the rankings by capturing a tournament he very nearly did not qualify for, is the European Tour's Abu Dhabi Championship next month.
He will face far stronger competition there, including world top four Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and defending champion Martin Kaymer, but at least the "will he ever win again?" questions are behind him.
Asked how his father Earl - who died in 2006 long before his sex scandal hit the headlines and his career nosedived - would have reacted, Woods said: "He would be proud of the way I hung in and was grinding, the way I was staying focused on what I was doing.
"I didn't let anything get in the way of my shot selection and commitment to each shot and the shot shape I was going to play.
"When he was alive that was something he was always kind of harping on at me.
"No matter whether you play the right shot or not, at least be committed to it.
"I was very committed to each and every shot, whether it was going to end great or not."
Woods was two ahead with seven to play, then one behind with two to go, but holed from 14 feet on the 17th and eight feet at the last.
A year ago in the same event he led Graeme McDowell by four with a round to go, but was caught and lost a play-off.
The main difference now, he feels, is his ability to train fully after recovering from knee and Achilles problems he aggravated at The Masters.
"In order for me to play the way I know I can play, I had to get fully fit," he said.
"I had to get healthy and to where I was strong and explosive again so I could practise.
"It basically starts with that. Then my practice sessions started building and building and building, then I would play a couple of tournaments here and there and each tournament I started getting better."
He was third at the Australian Open after leading at halfway, then come back from a record opening defeat in the Presidents Cup to demolish Aaron Baddeley in the singles as America retained the trophy.
On the significance of returning to winning ways, he said: "It feels good. That was my third time (this year) with a chance to win it and I pulled it off this time.
"They're not easy. People don't realise how hard it is to win golf tournaments.
"I've gone on streaks where I have won golf tournaments in a row, but I don't think I've taken it for granted.
"Some tournaments are easier than others because of how I'm playing. Some tournaments where I'm not playing well and somehow was able to scrap and scrounge every single stroke out of it and able to wind up on top.
"Other tournaments I really play well and it will separate."
It would have been no surprise if Woods had been more nervous than the good old days coming down the stretch, but he said: "I felt normal, very comfortable.
"I've been here so many times that I just feel very comfortable being here in this position. I'm always nervous in that position, but I enjoy being in that position.
"For some reason, it is kind of a comfort to be in there with a chance to win."