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Published: Thursday, 5/30/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Woods’ play should be main story

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

DUBLIN, Ohio — So, someone suggested to Tiger Woods, all the golf news in 2013 is being made off the course. There’s Vijay Singh’s rather odd lawsuit against the PGA Tour, the recent decision to soon ban anchor putters, TV viewers calling in with rules violations resulting in penalties, and, of course, the very public and, we’d say regrettable, feud between Woods and Sergio Garcia.

What do you think about all that, Tiger?

“Well, I’ve won four times this year,” he said with a thin smile.

Yes, he has. In fact, he has done it at a rate unlike anything in his illustrious career.

Woods has won at least six tournaments in a single year six times, capped by an unforgettable 2000 when he christened a new millennium with nine wins and most of his Tiger Slam of major championships.

RELATED: See Hackenberg's 13 odds-on favorites (he's got Tiger at 2-1) to win the Memorial

Not in that year or in either of the years that he won eight times (1999 and 2006) nor at any other time have four of those victories come before mid-May, which was when Tiger notched the 2013 Players Championship.

Woods, the defending champion, and 119 others will begin play today in the Memorial Tournament. He has won five times at Muirfield Village and you have to like his chances at No. 6.

We can’t forget that Tiger won nothing in 2010 and ’11 after dealing with personal issues, a coaching change, another swing change, and a caddie change.

“All the stretches where I’ve played well for a few years, winning five-plus [times] or whatever it was, I just felt good about what I was able to do as far as my misses and being able to fix it on the fly,” Woods said Wednesday. “I finally was starting to get to that point the end of last year.

“And I’m at the point now that [coach Sean Foley] and I really don’t do a lot of work. It’s just alignment; basically little things. I have a better understanding of how to fix it on the fly and make adjustments and that’s huge because you’re not going to feel good every day.”

He had a lot of those not-so-good days while wandering through the 2010-11 wilderness. But he ended his drought at the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational, added Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial with a gravity-defying flop shot from behind the 16th green on Sunday, and then won the AT&T National that he hosts. No majors in there, but some major names.

Don’t look now, but Woods has won seven of his last 20 starts on the PGA Tour.

“I think that’s what you’re seeing [is], I’ve gotten more precise and I’ve been able to work on other parts of my game and made them strengths,” Woods said.

His nine-win 2000 season was accomplished in 20 events and his eight triumphs in ’99 came in 21 tournaments. So he is in the same general ballpark as he tees off at one of his favorite places.

Here’s an interesting statistic: Half of Woods’ 78 tour wins have come in six events, two of them being the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone CC in Akron (seven wins) and the Memorial.

Rory McIlroy is impressed, but isn’t sure what to make of it.

“The guy is good wherever he goes,” McIlroy said of Woods. “He can win anywhere.”

Especially when he’s on one of those rolls. And he is on one. Again.

It should be golf’s big story.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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