- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tiger Woods has won Arnold Palmer’s tournament this year.

And Jack Nicklaus’.

Now it’s a matter of winning his own.

The top-ranked player in the world, who has finished in the top 10 in all seven stroke-play events he’s entered this year, is eager to collect his first AT&T National title this week.

“I always put as much as I can to win an event,” Woods said Tuesday at Bethesda’s Congressional Country Club. “Certainly, I love being a greedy host. It’s fun winning your own event. It’s awfully fun to do that and hopefully I can do that this week.”

If it doesn’t happen this week, it will not happen in the Washington area for a few more years.

With the 2011 U.S. Open set for Congressional, the AT&T National will move to Aronimink Golf Club in the Philadelphia area for the next two years. The tournament will return to Congressional in 2012.

“It’s unfortunate. With the U.S. Open coming here, we have no choice,” Woods said. “We have to go. It’s part of what the USGA makes you do. We have to go, but we’re going to a great golf course, but we are coming back here.”

Woods didn’t attend the tournament in 2008, the event’s second year. While Anthony Kim was collecting a title, Woods was recovering from knee surgery after grinding out a victory in the U.S. Open.

Instead, Woods watched from the couch while enduring the early stage of his rehabilitation process. He didn’t return until March, and needed less than a month before collecting a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

More importantly, Woods is fully healed after dealing with plenty of pain even before his surgery.

“It feels good to wake up in the morning and not ache, not want to move,” Woods said. “I went through that and I don’t want to go through that again. It wasn’t fun.”

What would be is collecting another major title before the year is through. Woods tied for sixth at the Masters in April, struggling at times while relying on his knowledge of Augusta National to remain viable throughout the week.

He also tied for sixth two weeks ago at the U.S. Open, struggling with his putting throughout the week at Bethpage Black but still finishing three shots out of a playoff.

Still, he isn’t far from winning a 15th major, and is eager for the British Open at Turnberry (where he has not played) and the PGA Championship at Hazeltine (where Woods finished second to Rich Beem in 2002).

“You have to have all the pieces,” Woods said. “You have to hit well, chip well, putt well, think well. That’s the whole idea of majors. Every single facet of your game is tested.”

Ideally for Woods, that also will happen this week at Congressional. Woods said he had “a little bit of say” in how the course is set up, preferring to have the rough up and the greens firm. The weather will have some influence on that result, but it demonstrates how much Woods is involved in his still-young tournament that’s looking to establishing itself.

“We want to be here for years to come, for perpetuity, really,” Woods said. “Hopefully we can all make that happen.”



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