December 17, 2012

Tiger’s Blog: A full season of competition

Before I talk about golf, I want to express my deepest condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones in Newtown. It’s heart-wrenching to think about the children and adults who lost their lives that day.

Golf-wise, there’s really no comparison between this year and last year. This year, I got a chance to play a full season, compete and win golf tournaments, whereas last year, I was hurt most of the time.

It was nice to win three times on the PGA Tour. They were all different for varying reasons. The first one — the Arnold Palmer Invitational — just to win, because I hadn’t won in awhile; the second — the Memorial Tournament — was to tie Jack Nicklaus’ number for most wins (73); and the third, at my tournament — the AT&T National — to pass Jack’s total. I missed being with Arnold at the award ceremony at Bay Hill, but it was special to share my victory with Jack. Jack and I talked to the media together at the end of the tournament, and that was very cool. I have always had the utmost respect for Jack, and that was a fun experience.

Being able to compete as much as I did this year was very exciting. I could actually go out and practice and prepare and play and not have a limited ball count or rehab training, and could actually train to become physically better. I have always prided myself on consistency, and recording nine top-10 finishes in 19 starts shows my game is back on track.

I don’t really think about milestones like tournament earnings. I just think about winning tournaments, and all those things will take care of themselves. I just need to win for a long period of time.

If I had to pick my best shot of the year, I would have to say it was my 50-foot downhill chip-in birdie on the par-3 16th at Muirfield Village Golf Club during the final round of the Memorial. The lie is what dictated my swinging that hard. I just tried to undercut the ball and hit it high in the air to take water long out of play. I just tried to leave it short and let it land to the left about 20 feet, catch that ridge and roll down to the hole. For Jack to say I don’t think under the circumstances I’ve ever seen a better shot was pretty sweet.

Looking ahead to next year, I’m just trying to win those big four tournaments, and obviously try to use other events to prepare for them and try to win them as well. I’ve had to alter my practice schedule because my kids come first. They’re my No. 1 priority. It takes a little better time management on my part to figure all that out, but I expect to play a similar number of events.

Rory McIlroy had a wonderful year, and my hat is off to him. He deserved Player of the Year. Whether we develop a rivalry remains to be seen. Let’s just let it play out and see where it takes us. We’ll look at the results the next five or 10 years and see if it becomes a rivalry or not. We’ll have to win big events and play each other down the stretch. That hasn’t happened yet. We’ve only played each other at Honda down the stretch. We need a lot more of those type of battles, but in bigger events.

My thanks to everyone who helped us with the recent World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual. This year’s tournament was a big success, with past champion Graeme McDowell winning again. Although we had tough weather most of the week, fantastic golf brought fans out to support us. Once again, we raised more awareness about what we’re doing for kids. I got to spend time with one of our scholars, Edgar. He’s been part of our program since middle school and is a currently taking his SATs and applying to colleges. He and his family have been through a lot, and I’m grateful he could spend some time during the tournament with us.

Big thanks to Northwestern Mutual and all the fans for their support this year, and I hope to welcome a title sponsor to the event for 2013.

I’m happy to share that my Foundation has assumed management of the Deutsche Bank Championship. We’ve been the primary beneficiary for the last 10 years, and we’re very excited to expand our role with such a great tournament. Seth Waugh was instrumental in the Foundation’s role with this event, and I’m grateful to him and Deutsche Bank for their continued support of our work.

Last week, Tom Watson was named the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup captain. I’d like to congratulate Tom on his selection. I think he’s a really good choice. He knows what it takes to win, and that’s our ultimate goal. I hope I have the privilege of joining him on the 2014 United States team.

I’m excited about the holidays and so are my kids. The best present I ever received was space Legos.

I’m also excited about Stanford playing Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. I’m planning on seeing the Cardinal beat the Badgers. It’s going to be another great game. You’ve got two big-time running teams playing against each other. There are going to be a lot of sore bodies by the end of the night.

That’s it for now. Happy holidays and thanks for your continued support.