LYTHAM ST ANNES, England – Tiger Woods crawled his way up to the second place in world rankings on Monday but the American, fresh from his joint third finish at the British Open, is unlikely to make a song and dance about that.
For a man who has spent 623 weeks at the summit, a greater craving would be to add to his already impressive list of 14 majors.
There was no hint of impatience in his voice after the famously focused American had a final round to forget at a sunny Lytham, carding his first triple bogey at a major since the 2003 Open.
“It’s part of golf. We all go through these phases. (For) some people it lasts entire careers. (For) others … a little bit shorter,” he said when asked how it felt not to have won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open.
Woods kept his composure remarkably well given the setback at the sixth hole on Sunday and still came tied third after a three-over-par 73 to end four shots behind winner Ernie Els.
He now sits just one place behind world number one Luke Donald after a failed attempt to land a fourth Claret Jug.
“I finally feel like I’m really healthy. And I’ve got my pop back in my swing. So I’m hitting the ball distances I know I can,” Woods told reporters.
The 36-year-old has changed the face of golf with his prodigious hitting and is still the main attraction for heaving galleries having won 14 majors in 11 years from his first in 1997.
At the Open, however, the crowd hoping to catch a glimpse of Woods bludgeoning a driver well over 300 yards down the fairway was left disappointed as the former world number one used iron after iron from the tee for position.
For his last Open triumph at Hoylake in 2006, Woods used the driver just once but his precision off the tee left spectators in awe.
At Lytham, fans sighed regularly when the iconic Tiger driver cover remained untouched, some impatiently calling him ‘boring.’
Woods is not in a hurry as he seeks to first land another major title and then perhaps dream of catching compatriot Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18 majors.
“Even the greatest players to ever play have all gone through little stretches like this. When your playing careers last 40 and 50 years, you’re going to have stretches like this,” was his response.
His next opportunity is at Kiawah Island for the August 9-12 U.S. PGA Championship and while most eyes would be on London Olympics, Woods would hope to divert attention on Sunday with a long-awaited 15th major.