Rejuvenated Woods Out to Right a Wrong at Hazeltine


Hazeltine (Minnesota), Aug 12: The final golf Major of 2009, the US PGA Championship, begins at Hazeltine National Thursday with one overriding question: Can Tiger Woods avoid the ignominy of going a calendar year without winning one of the sport's four biggest events?

The world No 1 has a point to prove after missing the cut in the British Open - his first on tour since 2006 - and if victory eludes him this weekend it will be the first time since 2004 that the American has not won one of the year's four Majors.

Woods described his missed cut at Turnberry last month as a fluke and the way he has gone about things since then justifies why he is the overwhelming favourite to win at Hazeltine, where he finished second when the US PGA Championship was played there in 2002.

His three-shot victory in the Buick Open immediately put him back on track and he then produced a superb final round to beat Padraig Harrington to win the WGC event at Firestone last weekend.

Woods will play together with defending champion Harrington over the first two rounds and the American is confident that he will be there competing for the big prize come Sunday afternoon.

"When you think this time last year I was coming off crutches following the knee surgery and learning to walk again, I don't think anyone thought I could win so many events in the first few months back," Woods said.

Nevertheless, it is more than a year since Woods won the US Open for his 14th major crown and the chasing pack, led by world No 2 Phil Mickelson, British Open champion Stewart Cink and the likes of Retief Goosen and defending champion Harrington, will be tough.

Mickelson missed the British Open to be with his wife and mother, both of who are battling cancer, but he is still expected to be right up there on a course that is the longest in Major championship history, at 7,674 yards.

The left-hander was a little rusty on his return to action last week at Firestone, but on such a long course, his length off the tee will put him in good stead.

Goosen has returned to form this year and knows how to win on difficult courses - having won two US Open crowns - while Cink has not stopped smiling since his Open triumph, grinning his way to sixth at Firestone.

As for Harrington, the Irishman looks to be finding his form after making extensive swing changes at the end of 2008, a year in which he won two Majors.

"I was happy with the week overall," he said. "Obviously it was a disappointing finish to the week, (but) overall most things were pretty positive I would say. I certainly did a lot of things that you need to do right when you want to play good tournaments.

"My short game was sharp. Probably see a bit of a weakness in my wedge play. That needs a bit of improvement. And the long game was sufficient anyway."


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Title: Rejuvenated Woods Out to Right a Wrong at Hazeltine

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