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Quest for redemption, 19 majors loom in Tiger's future

Breaking Jack Nicklaus's all-time record of 18 major titles will be a focus for Tiger Woods as he tries to move beyond the sex scandal that cost him a marriage, endorsement riches and golf supremacy.

other Updated: Nov 24, 2010 16:58 IST

Breaking Jack Nicklaus's all-time record of 18 major titles will be a focus for Tiger Woods as he tries to move beyond the sex scandal that cost him a marriage, endorsement riches and golf supremacy.

A Woods charm offensive ahead of Saturday's one-year anniversary of the car crash that began his fall from grace hinted at what the future will be for the 14-time major winner as he seeks to rebuild his life on and off the course.

"To rebuild it is basically coming to grips with who I am," Woods told ESPN. "I was down. I was angry. I wasn't happy with who I was. I was doing things that morally, inside, I knew were wrong. I've come out the other side.

"Look at where I'm at now and how much better I feel. I have a much better perspective now."

Woods, who turns 35 in December, said his goal was to become a better man but called his quest for 19 majors, his dream since boyhood, "still important."

"I would still like to get to 19," he said. "Obviously, I need to play better, shoot lower scores. Shooting rounds in the 70s ain't going to get it done."

Woods has yet to win a title since November 2009 in Melbourne, days before the car crash in the early morning hours after the US Thanksgiving holiday that revealed the lies and secret sex life of Woods and his multiple mistresses.

This was the first year in 15 PGA seasons that Woods failed to win a title.

He only managed three top-10 finishes - the fewest in his career - and two of those were shares of fourth at the Masters and US Open at Pebble Beach, familiar courses where Woods set jaw-dropping records in prior major triumphs.

Together with the British Open at St. Andrews, Woods went winless in 2010 on a trio of courses where he had won half his career total majors, missing a key chance to gain ground on Nicklaus.

"That's just the way it goes," Woods said. "I'm not going to win all of them. I've lost a lot more than I've won."

Woods has gone 10 majors without a title, the longest such drought of his career.

Nicklaus, who won six majors after turning 35, said he still thinks Woods will break his record but added "maybe it might be tougher" after missing out in 2010.

"Do I still think Tiger will break my record? Yeah, I think he probably will," Nicklaus said. "He's a very dedicated, hard-working golfer. But I always said you have to do it. It's not just a gimme."

Sponsors whose endorsement deals made Woods the first billion-dollar sportsman backed off as his admission of infidelity led to more than a dozen women coming forth to claim sexual relationships with the golf star, none of which he has refuted.

Once a common sight as a television pitchman, Woods was reduced to being seen largely only on promotions for golf telecasts.

Elin Nordegren divorced Woods last August and their children, daughter Sam and son Charlie, are "priority number one" for Woods, who said "they mean everything to me."

After a 281-week run atop the world rankings, Woods was toppled three weeks ago by England's Lee Westwood. And world number two Woods finished 68th on the US PGA Tour money list with 1,294,765 dollars in prize money from 12 events.

The golfer made his debut on Twitter last week and has more than 250,000 followers on the social messaging network, showing he can still command interest. But whether respect and trust follow remains uncertain.

"It's about time I made a connection to the fans who have been absolutely incredible to me over the past year," Woods said.

A public that once adored Woods might yet give him a second chance and create a perfect redemption story if he starts winning again.

But what his comments about regaining the respect of children when they become older rings just as true for everyone who felt betrayed by the revelation of the golfer's deceptions - trust must be earned.

"I will have to earn the trust and respect from my kids," Woods said. "That happens over the course of time."