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Nicklaus never went through a major championship drought this severe, except for the 20 majors he played between the 1980 PGA Championship at Oak Hill and his 18th and final major at the 1986 Masters when he was 46.

It’s too early to make a conclusion about Woods‘ 2013 season.

One week at the Honda Classic is not much of a barometer, nor is one day at Dove Mountain for the Match Play Championship.

His game is good enough to win anywhere on any golf course. It’s good enough to win majors. It’s good enough to return No. 1, perhaps even before the Masters. The intimidation and aura of Woods might not be what it was, but there were traces of it the way he rallied at the Memorial last year and dominated at Torrey Pines this year.

Still, it’s the inconsistency that keeps Woods from looking to be the threat he once was.

When Nicklaus was at about the same stage in his career, it was not unusual for him to miss the cut or have a bad week. But his results were never this up and down. At age 37, the Golden Bear had 14 straight finishes in the top 10 on the PGA Tour.

Look at the start to Woods‘ season. He missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, won the next week by four shots at Torrey Pines, and in his next stroke-play tournament, he never broke par and tied for 37th.

Look at last year.

He won twice in five starts, at Bay Hill and Memorial. In the three tournaments in between, he tied for 40th at Masters and The Players Championship and missed the cut at Quail Hollow. He gave up a 36-hole lead at the U.S. Open, and then won his next tournament. And then he missed the cut at The Greenbrier Classic.

About the only consistency comes from his answers.

“It’s not that far off,” Woods said when asked to compare his game at the Honda Classic with Torrey Pines. “I feel like I’m probably just not quite driving it as well. My iron game is pretty good and my short game is way better than it was at Torrey. I feel very comfortable with my putting, so I need to obviously get it in play a little bit more and attack from there, because everything else is pretty good.”

Except that he hit 65 percent of his fairways at PGA National and 57 percent of his fairways at Torrey Pines.

Woods pointed to his mistakes at the Honda Classic as painting a distorted view of how he played. Four shots because of lost balls. Four shots from his water balls. All this is true, except every player can say the same thing.

You have to wonder if Woods has a different outlook at this stage in his career. No doubt he wants to win every time he plays, but perhaps his performance at regular events takes on less significance to him, as long as his game is sharp and he peaks for the majors.

And that can’t be measured for another 38 days.