Beaten Tiger looks ahead to 2014

STILL OPTIMISTIC: Woods walking off the green as Johnson (in blue) is congratulated by PGA Tour rules official Mark Russell, after Johnson defeated him on the first play-off hole during the final round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge on Sunday.


    Dec 10, 2013

    Beaten Tiger looks ahead to 2014


    IT WASN'T the send-off from Sherwood that Tiger Woods wanted, but a play-off loss to Zach Johnson in the World Challenge gave the world No. 1 plenty of optimism for next year.

    Johnson rallied from four shots back with eight to play on Sunday, forcing a play-off by holing out from a drop area at the 72nd hole and taking the decider with a par as Woods' five-foot par-saving putt lipped out.

    It wasn't the defeat that made it an emotional day for Woods, but the knowledge that an event dear to his heart would be changing forever with a move to Florida next year.

    "We've raised US$25 million (S$31 million) in this event alone in the 15 years (of tournaments)," he said.

    Fourteen of those tournaments have been held at Sherwood Country Club in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, west of Los Angeles.

    He added: "Without this event, we wouldn't be able to build the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Orange County, and over 100,000 kids have gone through our facilities."

    Woods said this week that he hopes the move to Florida will make it easier for players based in the East Coast to accept invitations to the elite, 18-man tournament in the now-crowded December calendar.

    And, even with changes afoot, this year's edition offered the usual chance to gear up for the coming campaign while looking back on the previous season.

    "Pretty darn good year," he said of 2013. "Five wins and on some pretty good venues, so very pleased with the year."

    Those five wins earned him US PGA Tour player-of-the-year honours.

    But they didn't include a major title. Woods' pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record 18 majors remains stalled at 14.

    However, he has won at three of next year's four major championship venues - Augusta, Hoylake and Valhalla - and has a third-place and runner-up finish at US Open host course Pinehurst.

    His week included a masterful 10-under par 62 in the second round on Friday. He struggled with his putting on other days, including Sunday, but was happy with a new driver in his bag.

    "I found a nice driver this week, and very pleased at the changes that I found in (it)," Woods said.