Tiger Woods has admitted the chase for a 15th major championship has proved tougher than his pursuit of any other.
The world No1 has won five times in 2013 but has gone more than five years without a major. Previously, Woods's stance had been that every major was equally tough to win but, at Oak Hill on Tuesday, he deviated from that stance.
"It kind of seems that way," answered Woods when asked if No15 has offered his toughest test. "It has been probably the longest spell that I've had since I hadn't won a major championship. I came out here very early and got my first one back in 1997. I have had, certainly, my share of chances to win. I've had my opportunities there on the back nine. On probably half of those Sundays for the last five years I have had a chance and just haven't won it.
"But the key is to keep giving myself chances and eventually I'll start getting them. The frustrating part this year is I have been there and didn't win two of the [major] tournaments that I was right there in."
Victory in Rochester this weekend would mean a fifth US PGA title for Woods and move him to within three of the record major haul of Jack Nicklaus. Woods's chances of doing precisely that have been talked up by the six-times major winner Sir Nick Faldo.
"He is in a much better place now off the course with his girlfriend [the skier Lindsay Vonn]," Faldo said. "Maybe he is ready this week to find No15."
Woods's cause has been boosted by his seven-shot victory at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday. An Oak Hill putting green discussion with his close friend Steve Stricker may also prove pertinent given the latter's positive influence on Woods's short game in the past.
"I think it has been a great year so far for me, winning five times," said Woods. "And you look at the quality of tournaments I've won; a Players Championship and two World Golf Championships in there. That's pretty good. I feel very pleased with where my game is at. I have played well in the last two tournaments I've played in, especially coming off a little bit of an injury at the Open."
Tiger-mania, which never really disappeared despite the golfer's earlier personal and professional fall from grace, comes at an occasional cost. Woods admitted autograph hunters have a habit of becoming a little over-zealous in his home country, as was illustrated here on Monday.
"The fence almost came down," Woods said. "It gets dangerous. We had a little girl get crushed and she was just on the ground crying. People get so aggressive for autographs. And security is trying to be aggressive to protect the little kids up front.
"You try and sign, but sometimes the adults start running over the little kids up front and especially on a fence like that – on a hard fence – it can get dangerous sometimes. That was one of those situations where it almost fell."
Woods has displayed his softer side in recent days. On Sunday his four-year-old son Charlie was in attendance – and in his arms – as the 37-year-old lifted the Bridgestone trophy. Already a discussion has started over whether Charlie will seek to follow his father into professional golf.
"Whatever he decides, he decides," said Woods. "If he decides to play golf, so be it. If he decides to play another sport or not play any sports; as long as he's happy and he enjoys his life, I'm there to support and guide him in his life, and that's what it's all about.
"I was in a different situation with my dad. People think he pushed me into golf and it was the exact opposite. He was trying to get me not to play it.
"'Go play baseball.' OK, I'd go play baseball, I pitched. I could not wait to get out of that so I could go and play golf. I would run track and cross-country and I would run home fast to get to the golf course. I fell in love with golf at an early age; that was just my deal. I think the reason I did fall in love with it was because my dad kept it fun and light and I just enjoyed being out there.
"That's what I want to do with [his daughter] Sam or Charlie. If they play golf, no lessons. We are just going to go out there and have fun; hit it around, laugh and needle each other. He's only four years old but he still gives me a little bit of grief, which is good."
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