Tiger back to tame nightmare course

Strange thought it might seem, Team Woods contains one unhappy person. He is Tiger's caddie, Steve Williams, and the explanation is that he is a New Zealander. Williams knew of the All Blacks' semi-final defeat by France on Sunday prior to the final round of the US Tour Championship.

Strange thought it might seem, Team Woods contains one unhappy person. He is Tiger's caddie, Steve Williams, and the explanation is that he is a New Zealander. Williams knew of the All Blacks' semi-final defeat by France on Sunday prior to the final round of the US Tour Championship.

"I told Steve, why don't we go out and take care of business and I'm sure you will feel a lot better," Woods said. "We did and he does feel a lot better but I guess the whole of New Zealand is not feeling too good right now."

Woods' victory in Houston was his seventh in America, eighth worldwide. The run includes his defeat of Sergio Garcia at the USPGA Championship in August, his NEC World Invitational title and two weeks ago at Disney. A win at the AmEx World Championship, starting tomorrow at Valderrama, would be his third in three weeks.

The 23-year-old has now led, or tied for the lead, 12 times with a round to play and won 11 of them. The only time Woods lost, to the anonymous Ed Fiori, was the first occasion just after he had turned pro three years ago. "I don't know if I intimidate anybody," Woods said. "I try to put pressure on them by hitting good shots. I am not immune to the feelings of nerves and pressure. Coming down the stretch, I feel the heat but I have been there enough times to understand how my body reacts, what my tendencies are, how far the ball in go."

At the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama, Woods won just one of his five matches and struggled on a course where the fairways are contained within a tunnel of cork trees. He is not after revenge, as such. "To go out there to show this course what I can do is not, I think, the right attitude," he said. "The right attitude is to try and give myself a chance to win on the back nine on Sunday by playing very smart and patient golf. Coming into the Ryder Cup two years ago I wasn't able to hit the shots at the right time and make the crucial putts. I'm playing better this time. I've got more shots, and better shots, in my repertoire."

It is a repertoire the world No 1 intends to keep expanding. "I don't think you are ever finished trying to improve. As soon as you feel like you're finished, then I guess you are finished because you have already put a limit on your ability. You should always strive to become a better player. Right now the changes in my game are becoming more natural."

When Colin Montgomerie, who has won six times in Europe this season, said this week that Woods was "so far ahead of anyone else in the world of golf", the Scot did not realise that the US money list winner has actually earned more than Monty's £1.2m in Order of Merit events in which he has played.

Fortunately for Montgomerie, Woods is not a member. Jesper Parnevik was until he became one of nine players to withdraw from the last of this season's three new World Championship events. The Swede will not now complete the minimum 11 events required for membership and was yesterday expelled from the Order of Merit.

John Bickerton, who left Jerez on Sunday thinking he had fallen to 21st on the Order of Merit, is now eligible and was making his way back to Spain. Such decisive administration from the European Tour was in contrast to the confusion over the size of the field here, which now seems to have been settled at 63. Another Midlander, Jeremy Robinson, has also been lifted up to 115th place which means he retains his Tour card and will not have to go back to the Qualifying School.

* The European Tour will head for Brazil for the first time next year when the Brazil 500 Years Open in São Paulo becomes part of the Order of Merit. The tournament, which marks the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Brazil by the Portuguese sailor Alvares Cabral, will take place from 30 March to 2 April.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003