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Tiger chases 16th major, No. 1 spot as PGA pratice begins

AFP  |  Bethpage 

launched his quest for a 16th title, and a possible return to world number one, with a practice round in cold and rainy conditions.

The 43-year-old American, who snapped an 11-year win drought by capturing last month's Masters, toured the front nine at Bethpage Black in just under 2 1/2 hours ahead of Thursday's start to the year's second tournament.

"I feel good," Woods told Golfweek on Monday.

"Got a couple more days of work to get in and I'll be ready to go."

Woods hopes to pull within two of the all-time record 18 majors won by and take a fifth PGA crown, which would match the career record hauls of Nicklaus and

"To tie and with five wins would be a very special accomplishment," Woods said.

With a victory, Woods would also match the all-time career US PGA wins record of 82 by

Woods, whose career had been jeopardized by years of nagging before 2017 spinal fusion surgery, won at Bethpage Black and shared sixth in the 2009 US Open, but those were in warmer mid-June conditions.

This marks the first since 1948 to be played in May after the event was shifted this year from its traditional August spot in golf's lineup.

Woods practiced four times last week, including an 18-hole session at the Long Island public layout last Wednesday, two days after accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a ceremony.

The in-depth shotmaking session at Bethpage was the first time Woods had seen the facility since the 2012 US PGA tournament.

Sixth-ranked Woods is among five players with a chance to top next week's rankings.

Top-ranked Dustin Johnson, defending champion Brooks Koepka, England's second-ranked Justin Rose, four-time major winner of and Woods all have a chance at the top spot.

Johnson, Rose, third-ranked Koepka and fourth-rated McIlroy could take number one with a triumph while Woods would need to win, have neither Rose nor Koepka finish second alone and have Johnson finish worse than solo 11th place.

- Tiger oldest No. 1? -


Woods, who has not been world number one since March 2013, has spent a record 683 weeks atop the rankings.

Should he return to the top, Woods would become the oldest world number one, overtaking Australian legend for the distinction.

Las Vegas Westgate Superbook oddsmakers have Woods as a 10-1 co-favorite with Johnson and two-time winner Koepka with four-time major champion just behind at 12-1.

Woods jumped 13th to sixth after winning the Masters but hasn't played since his Masters triumph. This marks only the sixth time in his career Woods has played two majors without at least one event between them, the first time since the 2013

Woods had fallen to 1,199th in the world rankings in December 2017 after spinal fusion as a last-ditch move to ease nagging that made simple movements difficult.

From there, Woods contended at last year's and PGA, won his first title in more than five years by taking

That set the stage for Woods to win his fifth Masters green jacket.

- Thomas withdraws -


Fifth-ranked withdrew from the tournament with a right wrist injury, denying this from being the first major tournament with all of the world's 100 top players in the field.

"As a past champion this tournament is extra special to me," Thomas said in a statement.

"It consistently has the strongest field in and I'm disappointed not to be among those competing this year but I'm optimistic about a return in the near future.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, May 14 2019. 09:36 IST