Belek (Turkey): Tiger Woods, third in the Turkish Open on Sunday, has one event remaining this year but he’s already focussing on next year’s Majors and returning to three of four venues where he has tasted success in the past.
Woods left Istanbul with a share of third place,four shots behind surprise winner, Victor Dubuisson of France.
The world No. 1 could look back to the disappointment Thursday’s weather-delayed opening round when he shot a two under par 70 in a round whee he managed to find only three fairways.
And while Woods’ driving improved marginally he averaged 66 over the next three days.
Woods will not play again to his final event of the year when he hosts the December 5 commencing World Challenge at Thousand Oaks in Los Angeles, an event he has captured five times since its inception in 1999.
The 14-time Major winner will then make his 2014 debut in the 25th anniversary Dubai Desert Classic starting on January 30.
Next year will be six years since Woods last won a Major Championship in capturing the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines.
However Woods remains quietly confident of moving closer to Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record of 18 Majors given the Masters, the British Open at Royal Liverpool and PGA Championship at Valhalla will be staged in 2014 on venues where he has won in the past.
Woods has won four times at Augusta National while he won the 2006 British Open when last staged at Royal Liverpool and he defeated fellow American Bob May in a play-off to capture the PGA Championship at Valhalla when last staged on the Kentucky course in 2000.
The US Open will be held at Pinehurst where Woods was runner-up in 2005 to New Zealander Michael Campbell.
“Next year is really good for one for me in the Majors, and on top of having won at three of the four venues, I’ve had a third and a second at Pinehurst and hopefully I can keep improving there,” he smiled.
“I’m looking forward to the four venues. I like them and obviously I’ve played well on them.”
And Woods played down criticism in not having captured a 15th Major arguing he won five times this season on the PGA Tour as well as returned to No. 1 in the world.
“Compared to this time last year, I’ve got, what, five more wins since then, so I think my game has gotten a little better,” he said.
“So the way I have played this year as a whole has been very encouraging.
“A couple of years ago, there were a lot of guys, so many guys here (in the media) that were saying I could never win again. I’ve got eight wins since then, so it’s been good and I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made.
“I’ve won on some venues that were very tough this year, and also being a part of the Presidents Cup with Freddie (Couples) and winning that point, too, was another special moment.”
Stenson is considering pulling out of the World Tour Championship starting on Tuesday as he had to do at the recent BMW Masters in Shanghai.
“The problem with the tendons in my wrist is going to affect my preparations but it’s been like that for the last three weeks,” he said.
“My only concern is that long-term, I just hope I’m not damaging anything that’s going to take longer to get fixed later on.
“But I am going to speak to my physio and see what he wants me to do.”
Stenson shared seventh in Turkey but with the Swede seeing his lead cut from 343,866 euros to 213,468 euros while the leading four contenders for the European No. 1 title are now separated by 343,906 and with this week’s event carrying a first prize of 1.14 million euros.