ATLANTA (Reuters) - Tiger Woods heads into this week’s Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club with his sights set on a sixth victory of the season which, in all likelihood, would secure him PGA Tour Player of the Year honors.
Though he has not claimed a major title since the 2008 U.S. Open, the American world number one feels his 2013 campaign has been one of the most consistent of his career, having included two wins in the prestigious World Golf Championship events.
The top seed in the FedExCup standings going into the PGA Tour season finale, Woods is one of just five players in the field of 30 who would automatically guarantee overall playoff honors and the $10 million bonus with victory this week.
Each of the remaining 25 players has a mathematical chance of claiming both titles but would need several other scenarios to go his way.
“I‘m excited to be back here at East Lake,” Woods told reporters on Wednesday before heading out for a practice session ahead of Thursday’s opening round.
”The playoffs have been pretty successful. I’ve gotten to the No. 1 spot coming into the Tour Championship and that’s kind of where I wanted to be, especially having the year I’ve had.
“Winning five times this year has been pretty good, and to have the No. 1 spot, just like the other four guys in the top five, we control our destiny. I‘m looking forward to the week and getting started tomorrow.”
Asked how much bearing the season-ending Tour Championship would have on the battle for Player of the Year honors, Woods replied: ”This tournament has a lot of value to it.
“There are guys who have won a couple of times but they’ve had major championships in there. I’ve won five times.”
Woods’ main rivals for Player of the Year honors are Masters champion Adam Scott and British Open winner Phil Mickelson, who have both triumphed twice on the PGA Tour this season.
”This week has a lot to do with it,“ said Woods, a 14-times major champion. ”Up for grabs are the Player of the Year, the Arnold Palmer award (leading money winner), the Vardon Trophy (best scoring average) and all those things.
“The Player of the Year award is something we hold dearly because it’s the respect of our peers. It’s pretty special. I’ve had my years over the course of my career, and hopefully this will be another one.”
Woods, who has the best scoring average this season with 68.87, has won PGA Tour Player of the Year honors 10 times and the Vardon Trophy on eight occasions.
Asked whether he felt he had already done enough to secure the Player of the Year accolade with his five-win season, Woods smiled: “Well, I’d like to get a sixth win, how about that?”
The American did not hesitate in his reply when asked if he felt his 2013 campaign had been one of the most consistent of his career.
”I think so,“ Woods said. ”I won some big events this year, two World Golf Championships, a Players (Championship) ... I think that’s been a pretty good year.
“I‘m excited the way I’ve put together my last couple of years, coming off the (assorted leg) injuries. A lot of people thought I would never win again, and here we are with some more wins.”
Woods, FedExCup champion in 2007 and 2009, feels very comfortable heading into Thursday’s opening round at East Lake as a twice former winner of the Tour Championship.
”I’ve had a good run here,“ he said. ”I’ve won twice and finished second four times. That’s not too bad over the course of my career here.
“I have felt comfortable on this golf course. This week’s going to be interesting. We’re going to get some different weather coming in here, and obviously got to make the adjustments.”
Editing by Frank Pingue