The excuse is the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, but who cares, so long as it provides an opportunity to gain insight into what Tiger Woods is thinking about his recent season, next year and why it is hard to win big events.
The last 12 months, according to Woods, were good.
"Won five times this year," he recapped. "No one did that this year, so I'm very pleased at the overall year."
But was it enough for someone as driven as Woods? Not really. Coulda. Shoulda.
"I certainly wish I could have played a little better in major championships," he said. "At the Masters, I certainly had a chance because I was right there, and especially on Friday when I looked like I was going to take the lead over Freddy, and we already posted."
There was the rules incident on Saturday, yet he still had a chance on Sunday, although he was not able to get it done.
"At the British Open, I was there and the momentum flipped on probably Saturday afternoon on that second shot I stood up in the wind on 17," he recalled. "If I just turn it over and turn it down that hill and make birdie and Westie (Lee Westwood) doesn't, all of a sudden, I've got the lead. So things can flip like that."
However, he felt he was there with a chance on Sunday in two of the 2013 majors. In the other two, he admitted that he just didn't play well enough.
So will this be the year that Woods gets his 15th or 16th major?
It's a little harder than it used to be to bring those trophies home, and part of the reason, according to Woods, is that the fields are filled with young talented players and everybody gets nervous. He didn't say that he got nervous, but we have to allow for the possibility.
"If you look at a lot of major championships, you'll see guys three, four, five under par on the front nine, getting it going, but you just can't maintain that pace," he explained. "Phil played a great round of golf, and the rest of the guys just didn't get it done coming in (in the British Open). I was playing with Adam that day, and he looked like he was going to win the tournament through the 11th hole, after making birdie there. He was in complete control of the tournament.
"Then it just completely flipped."
According to Woods, that's when the mind games can kick in and mess things up.
"You see, a lot of the guys who are off the pace get off to quick starts because they're obviously aggressive, and they can get it going," he said. "As the pressure mounts, it's harder to maintain that, especially when you know you're one or two back and tied for the lead, but you're five, six, seven holes ahead."
Then the questions start.
"Should I pull back the reins? Should I continue to fire? If I make a mistake here, it now compounds and gives the guys that many more holes to make up the ground," he added. "There's a lot of different components that people don't quite understand. Guys who have won major championships understand those dynamics."
Plus, according to Woods, there's a ton more talent at the top level playing with equipment that does not allow the ball to go as far off-line as it used to. That brings the field closer together.
"Equipment has certainly narrowed the gap quite a bit from the elite ball strikers," he said, comparing today to balata balls and persimmon clubs, which were significantly harder to control. "You see more young players throw the ball straight in the air and are very shocked to see the ball get moved by the wind. It's a totally different game.
"Guys have evolved and, I think, have become much more aggressive now than they ever used to be because of equipment."
He thinks a big difference now is in controlling the trajectory of the ball instead of curving it right-to-left or left-to-right.
"You look at the guys who are pretty good players at the top. They cannot really shape the golf ball necessarily, but they can move their trajectory up and down," he said. "I think that's where the shaping has changed. They don't shape it as much from right to left, but more in the altitude. And I think that is the biggest difference...it's evolved (from) when I first came out here to what it is now."
Now, as he prepares for 2014, Woods has been training more than playing golf. And, yes, even the great Tiger Woods has had to make some accommodations for aging.
"I don't run the mileage like I used to. I don't lift the way I used to," he admitted. "Things evolve. I'm not 22. I'm about ready to turn 38, so things are different, and you have to make those adjustments. You know, that is just a reality."
Staying in shape means he's less likely to have injury, and that's why it's important for him to continue his routine. As Lee Trevino's wife once said, the golf clubs do not know how old you are. So, no matter what his birth certificate says, his overall goals have not changed, and his desire is not diminished.
"Whatever tournament I play in, the goals are still the same: keep improving. I feel like I've improved this year (more) than I did over the previous year," he said.
He's looking toward the 2014 major venues which are Augusta National, Pinehurst, Hoylake and Valhalla.
"I've won at every one except for Pinehurst, and I'm trending in the right way. I've finished third, second. You get the picture, right? Okay. Okay. So I'm looking forward to the major championship venues this year. They have set up well for me over the years, and I look forward to it," he added.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.
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