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Beware a wounded Tiger

Out of Bounds
October 19, 2010
Tiger Woods hit form in the singles at the Ryder Cup © Getty Images
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Tiger Woods has come out of the undergrowth after going to ground following his fine display at the Ryder Cup and he claims the problems of the past 12 months have made him a better person.

"I learned a lot about myself and I learned how things went wrong, why they went wrong, and had to take a pretty deep and introspective look at myself," he said. "And there wasn't a lot of things I like about it.

"But I had to do it and I did it and I'm grateful that I did. I think that I come from a much better place, much more grounded place now than I ever have before."

The extra-marital affairs also cost him his marriage and if reports are to be believed, over $100m. That's a heavy price to pay, but arguably something that he deserved. He can now get back to focusing on his golf and he is some two weeks away from a return to action, at which point he will no longer be world No. 1.

That will be an odd feeling for Woods and the wider golfing world, as he has been at the top of the tree for the past 280 weeks and 622 weeks in all. It is down to Woods' consistency and brilliance that he has been No. 1 for so long and his dominance has meant the top spot is something he has pretty much been able to take for granted.

But that is not to say he has been complacent, as he has said in the past that being No. 1 is the reward for playing well. For so long Woods' focus has been on the majors and breaking Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles. After a barren two years, he remains four titles behind the Golden Bear and with every major that passes without a win for Woods, the pressure mounts with regard to whether he will be able to take the record.

Issues on the course are now starting to dominate the majority of Woods' time, which can only be good for him and the game, and he has been working hard on his remodelled swing with coach Sean Foley.

Jack Nicklaus is a player in Woods' sights © Getty Images
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We will see how the new swing is shaping up when Woods tees it up at the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai on November 4. He will no longer have the tag of world No. 1 on his shoulders, that will belong to either Lee Westwood or Martin Kaymer, but Out of Bounds is in no doubt that it will be something he will look to put right.

Woods is one of the greatest players ever to pick up a club, and in his own mind he probably thinks he's the greatest, and the greatest should be at the top of the tree. As such, being the hunter rather than the hunted could hand him added drive.

His goal remains to overhaul Nicklaus but it will be no bad thing to have a Westwood or a Kaymer above him to shoot for when he returns to the course.

The 2010 season may be one to forget for Woods, but those thinking it will be the same in 2011 should beware a wounded Tiger.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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