PGA CHAMPIONSHIP Woods seeking to end majors slump at Whispering Straits



He hasn't won a major since the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.
HAVEN, Wis. (AP) -- Tiger Woods is back where he started his professional career, this time chasing an end to his slump in the majors.
Woods, playing an official tour event in Wisconsin for the first time since his pro debut in the Greater Milwaukee Open eight years ago, is trying to avoid going two seasons without a victory in a major championship.
His last chance is the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday at Whistling Straits, the longest course in major championship history at 7,514 yards.
Still ranked No. 1
Woods is still No. 1 in the world rankings -- he has been for a record-tying 331 consecutive weeks -- but that streak, along with his run of five straight PGA Tour player of the year awards could be in jeopardy. He's 0-for-9 in the majors since winning the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, with his best finish this year a tie for ninth in the British Open.
"It's never easy to win a major championship," Woods said Tuesday.
He assumed as much when he joined the tour after two years at Stanford and three straight U.S. Amateur titles.
"I was just praying that I could do well enough not to have to go to Q-school," Woods said. "I was embarking on something I had never been through before and I didn't know what my future was going to hold for me."
He tied for 60th in his pro debut in Milwaukee and earned $2,544, then won twice and had three top-10 finishes in only eight tournaments.
A year later, Woods won four tournaments and his first Player of the Year award.
Career earnings over $43 million
He has 40 tour wins -- though just one this season -- and his career earnings have topped $43 million.
But he hasn't been able to return to the form of 2000 and 2001, when he won 14 times, became the first player to hold all four professional major titles at once and set the bar at a height even he hasn't been able to reach.
"I haven't been hitting the ball quite as close to the flags. I haven't been making as many putts," Woods said. "When I'm going out there and shooting 12-under par in the U.S. Open and 19-under par in the British Open, things are going pretty well."
The run that ended at Bethpage left Woods stuck on eight pro major wins and suddenly, Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 victories no longer looks so close.
And all those guys chasing him no longer seem so far away.
Singh eyes top spot
Vijay Singh is a four-time winner on the PGA Tour this year and leads the money list. He also can move to No. 1 in the world, although it would require a victory at Whistling Straits and Woods missing the cut, something Woods has never done in a major as a professional.
Phil Mickelson is No. 4 in the world and No. 1 in the majors this year, having won the Masters and missing out on a chance to win the U.S. and British Opens by one putt on the back nine of each. Mickelson has a chance to become the first player to finish in the top three in all four majors since the Masters began in 1934.

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