Golf notes: Tiger's season good but not great

U.S. golfer Tiger Woods reacts after missing a birdie putt to lose the second hole during the...

U.S. golfer Tiger Woods reacts after missing a birdie putt to lose the second hole during the afternoon four-ball round at the 39th Ryder Cup golf matches at the Medinah Country Club in Medinah, Illinois, September 29, 2012. (REUTERS)

TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:46 PM ET

For most everyone else, it would be a great year.

But Tiger Woods always has been held to a higher standard -- and he holds himself to that standard. He made it clear years ago that major championships were the only thing that really matter in his book.

Even through the scandals and injuries and struggles, he is holding steadfast to that ideal, suggesting again Wednesday that, without a major, his 2012 campaign was good but not great.

"I've always said winning one major championship turns a good year into a great year," Woods said at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia. "You can have wins -- I've had years where I've won five times on Tour. Yeah, it's a really good year, no doubt, but winning a major championship just makes it a great year. The majors are such a different animal and different breed and we place so much emphasis on them."

This year has seen Woods win three times, make 17 of 19 cuts, and vault back to No. 2 in the world ranking and collect more than $6 million in earnings. But until he gets his 15th major in pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' 18, not even he is ready to pronounce himself "back."

"Like Ernie (Els) this year, he has had a really good year," Woods said. "He was in contention a bunch of times, had a chance to win. But he wins a major championship, and now it's a great year."

FOLEY PHILOSOPHIES

Canadian golf coach Sean Foley gave a wide-ranging, exclusive interview to PGATour.com's Brian Wacker this week, covering topics from how his own life has changed, how his pupils' games have changed, to his philosophies and his tattoos.

Some of the most interesting bits were his take on the relationship Woods has with young Rory McIlroy, which Foley said is "like Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy reading each other's work."

"In Tiger's case, he's watching this young kid who hits it really far with a little draw and does everything well. It's like the saying that game recognizes game."

But you can't really compare the players, he said.

"I think you have to be careful when comparing players from different decades and eras. Comparing players in the '50s to the '80s to the '90s to the 2000s is really useless because the game is different from one era to the next."

He also said the game is deeper now, with thanks to Tiger.

"Tiger changed the paradigm. The reason that there are Rorys and Dustins (Johnson) and players of that ability is because they grew up watching this guy in a red shirt on Sunday. A lot of those kids didn't know it was possible, that golf could be that cool until they saw him do it."

SHOW ME THE MONEY

Luke Donald last season became the first player to officially win the money title on both the European and PGA tours, but he may not have much time to bask in that accomplishment with Rory McIlroy looking to become the second just a year later.

The 23-year-old Irishman leads the European Tour Race to Dubai with $2,813,962, just under a half- million up on Justin Rose, and he also leads the PGA Tour money race with $8,047,952, almost $2 million ahead of Tiger Woods.

"That's the one last big goal of the year to win The Race to Dubai and try to emulate what Luke did last year, winning both money titles," McIlroy said Tuesday at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, where a win would go a long way toward his quest. "I'll be giving it my all this week, and trying to get another win."

The asterisk here is that on six different occasions Woods earned enough money on both tours to win the title, but he never was officially a member of the European Tour.

ACCORDING TO JIM

Two players linked by homemade swings suffered very different fates Sunday at the McGladrey Classic.

While it was cool to see Tommy Gainey become the first Big Break graduate to win on the PGA Tour, it was difficult to not feel badly for 16-time winner Jim Furyk.

Furyk had a few chances this year to add to his career wins total, but some uncharacteristic and untimely poor play cost him.

There was the playoff loss at the Transitions Championship, the near-miss at the U.S. Open, the Bridgestone Invitational gutting, and his part in losing at the Ryder Cup.

And Sunday was no exception in Furyk's hard-luck season. Needing a birdie to force a playoff with "Two Gloves" Gainey, Furyk sailed a terrible 8-iron to the right and it was over.

Still, it was classy of Furyk to be one of the first people to congratulate Gainey, someone he had taken aside a year earlier to tell him to stick with his unusual swing.

"I played nine holes with him (at the 2011 PGA Championship)," Gainey said after his win Sunday. "He said, 'Tommy, you know, when you were on the mini tours, you were kicking their tail and now you get out here and you struggle a little bit.' He said, 'Man, don't change your game. Just keep going at it. You got the game to be out here and to win. Just keep your head up and just keep trying, and sooner or later it's going to happen.'

"And you know, who knows what would have happened if we didn't play nine holes together, or even had a talk. So I mean, I appreciate all the help I can get because, you know, I know I'm 37, considered a veteran maybe, but you know, I'm still young when it comes to (playing) out here. When you got a player like Jim Furyk, or anybody else of that stature, that wants to help you, it's definitely in my favour to listen."

tim.mckay@sunmedia.ca

ON THE TEE

PGA Tour

CIMB Classic

The Mines Resort and Golf Club (6,811 yards, par 71), Kuala Lumpur

--Last year's champion Bo Van Pelt comes in hot after winning last week in Australia.

European Tour

BMW Masters

Lake Malaren Golf Club, The Masters Course (7,607 yards, par 72), Shanghai

--This will mark the first time back together for most of the victorious European Ryder Cup squad.

LPGA Tour

Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship

Sunrise Golf and Country Club (6,390 yards, par 72), Yang Mei, Taiwan.


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