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Woods on his season: Good but not great

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Only Tiger Woods can classify a redemptive season in which he won three times and earned $6.1 million with a retooled swing a “good but not great year.”

What’s missing? A major. Only those titles are worthy of superlatives, Woods said Wednesday.

“I’ve always said winning one major championship turns a good year into a great year,” he said in advance of the CIMB Classic, which begins Thursday in Malaysia.

“I’ve had years where I’ve won five times on Tour. Yeah, it’s a really good year, no doubt, but winning a major championship just makes it a great year. The majors are such a different animal and different breed, and we place so much emphasis on the them.”

A victory this week at the CIMB Classic – an event co-sanctioned by the PGA and Asian tours – will do little to change that distinction, of course. Woods is the headliner of the 48-man field, featuring a $1.3 million first-place prize, and an 18-hole, match-play showdown looms Monday with world No. 1 Rory McIlroy in China.

After a three-win season – his victory at Bay Hill snapped a 2 ½-year winless drought on Tour – it’s hard to remember that Woods ended 2011 as the 23rd-ranked player in the world. Woods, now ranked second in the OWGR, has finished outside the top 11 only twice in his past nine worldwide starts.

“It’s like everybody else,” he said of his past struggles. “I’ve gone through periods where I didn’t hit very good, didn’t chip very good, didn’t putt very good. I know what I can do, but sometimes it just doesn't come out. That’s when, for me, in the past and will always continue to be that way, I’ve just got to go back and work harder.”

Woods said his sights “absolutely” remain set on pursuing Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors and Sam Snead’s 82 tournament victories – Tiger has 74 – but stressed that it was no longer his greatest priority.

“Being the best father I can possibly be to my two great kids,” Woods said, “that certainly is No. 1 in my life.”