Tiger itching to win again

ST.LOUIS. – Tiger Woods says he has improved enough after spinal fusion surgery to snap a five-year win drought just ahead of the season’s final major golf tournament, the 100th PGA Championship.

Woods, a 14-time major champion, tees off next week at Bellerive after briefly leading last month’s British Open at Carnoustie. The former world number one boosted his ranking from beyond 1 200th last December to 50th.

“I went from just hoping to be able to play the tour to now I feel that I certainly can win again,” Woods said.

“Within a year to get down to 50 is a pretty good accomplishment. At the beginning of the year, if they had said you’re playing the Open Championship, I would have said I’d be very lucky to do that.”

Woods, who hasn’t won a major title since the 2008 US Open, struggled with back pain the past two years but has served notice his shotmaking skills are returning to form. He shared second at the Valspar Championship in March and in June shared fourth at the National after his best final round in six years.

“I’ve had an opportunity to win a couple times this year. I had a great chance at Valspar early in the year and even (at Carnoustie) I had a great shot at it,” Woods said. “My game has gotten better and good enough where I feel like I can win again out here.”

Woods has one last major before turning 43 in December. Only 14 times has a player 43 or older won a major and only two men have multiple wins beyond their 42nd birthday – Old Tom Morris in the 1864 and 1867 British Opens and Julius Boros at the 1963 US Open and 1968 PGA Championship.

Woods has not won any event since the 2013 WGC Bridgestone Invitational, but held the outright lead with eight holes to play at Carnoustie before a double bogey and bogey dropped him from the top for good.

“It’s going to sting for a while because I had a great chance at it,” Woods said. “I played myself into a great position. I made a couple of mistakes there at 11 and 12, ended up costing me the tournament.”

Woods shared sixth at the Open, his best major result since 2013, and will chase his first consecutive top-10 major finishes since 2010 at Bellerive.

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