Woods Tries to Extend Streak - Sort Of

By Associated PressSeptember 27, 2006, 4:00 pm
2006 WGC American Express ChampionshipCHANDLER'S CROSS, England -- Keeping track of records can get muddled when Tiger Woods travels around the world, so there was a debate Wednesday whether his winning streak was dead or alive.
The answer was both.
'It ended two weeks ago,' Woods said.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is hoping to find his winning focus this week.
After five straight victories from the British Open in July to the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston the first week of September, Woods lost in the first round of the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth.
But that's a European Tour event.
'I'm going for six in a row on our tour,' Woods said at the American Express Championship, where he is defending his title at a World Golf Championship that counts as official on all six of the major tours. 'But not six in a row tournament-wise, because I've played two since then and lost both.'
The other loss was at the Ryder Cup, still a popular topic this week.
Woods also won six straight on the PGA Tour at the end of 1999 and the start of 2000, although he finished sixth in between that streak at the Johnnie Walker Classic, another European Tour event. That matched the second-longest streak on the PGA Tour, barely more than halfway home to the record not even Woods believes will be broken.
Byron Nelson, who died Tuesday at his ranch in Texas, owns the record of 11 consecutive victories in 1945.
'His record is still remarkable that particular year,' Woods said. 'His 12th event, he finished second, and then he won the very next one. So that's 12 out of 13, and the worst he finished was second. That's pretty good. And 18 (victories) in one year. I don't play that many tournaments, so I can't get to 18.'
Asked whether 11 in a row was possible now, Woods said probably not.
'The competition is so much deeper now,' he said. 'Back in his day -- I actually talked to him about this -- he said he had to beat four or five guys every week. And when you're hot, that's not hard to do. That's not the case anymore. It's 40 or 50 now, so it's a lot different.'
This might be one of the easier weeks.
Sure, the World Golf Championships attract the best players from around the world. The criteria for this one is top 50 in the world ranking, and money leaders from the PGA, European, Australasian, Japan, South African and Asian tours.
Phil Mickelson and Vaughn Taylor are the only Americans from the Ryder Cup not at The Grove, an estate north of London. Taylor didn't qualify and Mickelson likely is done playing until the Bob Hope Classic. The only European who didn't qualify was Paul McGinley.
Others who withdrew include Ben Curtis and U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, who are new fathers; and Davis Love III, who wanted to spend time with his family after his daughter's friend was killed in a car accident.
That leaves only 63 players in the world, a small number of players for anyone to beat.
And some of them are still hung over from the Ryder Cup, figuratively and literally.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was staying at The K Club last week during the Ryder Cup, and just his luck, he and his wife were in a room directly above the Europeans' team room where they celebrated a resounding victory.
'We dozed off around 6 a.m.,' Finchem said.
Lee Westwood went unbeaten while playing all five matches for the second straight time, and he was so weakened by a chest cold that he took a nap before the party. He limited himself to about five celebratory drinks.
'It's the most sober I've ever been on Monday morning after a Ryder Cup,' he said.
Still coughing and wheezing on Wednesday, he was hard-pressed to recognize that a World Golf Championship was at stake this week, with a $7.5 million purse. It reminded him of Hilton Head, described by many as a working vacation because of the enormous buildup to the Masters, which is held the week before.
'Any time after something you've really built yourself up for, it's always difficult to get up the next week,' he said.
Jim Furyk felt the same way.
He has long supported the Million Dollar Challenge in South Africa, missing only the year it was held the week after the Presidents Cup. And he wouldn't mind being home this week, in part because he has been away from his two small children for the last two weeks.
'If I had my druthers, I would never play the week after a Presidents Cup or a Ryder Cup because it's an emotional high or letdown either way,' Furyk said. 'If you play well and the team wins and you have a great time, it's tough to get your thoughts back in it. If the team loses, you're in a grouchy mood and you don't want to turn around and think about, 'What am I going to work on tomorrow? How am I going to get ready for this tournament?''
Woods and Furyk are on their third week in Britain and Ireland.
'I'm just looking forward to getting back to the States and seeing the sun,' Woods said.
Then again, he hasn't exactly lit it up over here. A first-round loss at Wentworth. Another Ryder Cup rout in Ireland. His last chance is the American Express Championship, and a chance to keep alive his winning streak, even though it's really dead.
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