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I don't need to win at Augusta but the fire remains in my belly: Tiger

 

Feeling good: Tiger Woods during practice at Augusta yesterday
Feeling good: Tiger Woods during practice at Augusta yesterday

By Phil Casey

Tiger Woods admits he no longer "needs" to win the Masters but anyone questioning his desire for a fifth green jacket should think again.

Woods has not won a Major since the 2008 US Open and last tasted victory at Augusta National in 2005, but off-course problems have given the former World No.1 a different perspective.

The 43-year-old's marriage collapsed after revelations of numerous infidelities and the prescription drugs Woods relied upon to cope with various injuries eventually led to his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence in May 2017.

Woods, who had undergone spinal fusion surgery a month earlier, later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and spent a year on probation as well as undertaking a diversion programme.

He returned to competitive golf in November that year and although he could only finish 32nd in last year's Masters, he went on to finish sixth in the Open Championship and runner-up in the US PGA before winning his 80th PGA Tour title in the Tour Championship.

"It proved to me that I could win again," Woods said of his victory in Atlanta. "I was close at the Open, I was making a run at the PGA, I just needed to clean up my rounds and get a break.

"When I look back on that week I led from day one and that's not easy to do. From the struggles I've had the last few years, to lead from day one and end up winning wire-to-wire made it that much more special."

Asked about his desire to win at Augusta, Woods smiled widely as he added: "I don't really need to win again. I really want to.

"There were a couple of events, Major-wise, I needed to win. One, don't blow the lead I had in '97, because of what just happened the previous year.

"Greg (Norman) lost a six-shot lead. I didn't want to lose a nine-shot lead, so I was able to win.

"And then to win here in '01 to complete all four in a row, that's never been done. So I don't know how many more chances I'm ever going to get to do that again.

"Probably not many, if at all, ever again, and the build-up going into that event, that's nine months of just getting asked the same question. Yeah, I needed to win that one to get all four."

Woods looked certain to surpass Jack Nicklaus' record tally of 18 Majors when he won his 14th in 2008 but is as surprised as anyone else to have so far drawn a blank.

"I wouldn't have foreseen that for sure," he added. "After I won my 14th, I felt like I still had plenty more that I could win, but unfortunately I just didn't do it.

"I put myself there with chances on the back nine on various Sundays and haven't done it. Hopefully I put myself there again and I'll get it done."

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