Sharper short game gives Tiger reason to smile

Sun Dec 2, 2012 8:33pm EST
 

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

THOUSAND OAKS, California (Reuters) - Tiger Woods was excited about his overall prospects and the sharpness of his short game for next year, despite failing to finish his 2012 campaign with a flourish at the World Challenge on Sunday.

Tournament host of the elite 18-player event at Sherwood Country Club, Woods went into the final round five shots off the lead and ended it eight strokes behind winner Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.

A stunning eagle three at the 16th, where he struck his second shot from 252 yards to six feet, briefly put Woods five off the pace but he was unable to make up further ground on a rain-soaked day as he closed with a one-under-par 71.

"Overall I struggled with my game this week," the defending champion told reporters after falling well short in his bid to win a fourth tournament this year. "I didn't quite have it.

"But I've come a long way. Last year was a very disappointing year. I was hurt for most of the year and didn't really do much.

"And then to win this event last year, which spring-boarded me into this year. I won three times on tour, and once I passed Jack (Nicklaus) on my all-time wins that was a pretty neat accomplishment as well."

In July, 14-times major champion Woods moved past Nicklaus into second place on the all-time PGA Tour winners list when he clinched the AT&T National by two shots for his 74th title on the U.S. circuit.

Although he has not triumphed in the majors since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Woods has been especially encouraged by the improvement in his short game in recent months.   Continued...

 
Tiger Woods waves after making a birdie on the 16th hole during the final round of the World Challenge golf tournament in Thousand Oaks, California, December 2, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok