PONTE VEDRA, Florida, (Reuters) – World number one Tiger Woods, who missed the cut at last week’s Quail Hollow Championship, said he will not be fazed if his 258-week reign at the head of the rankings is ended by Phil Mickelson on Sunday.
U.S. Masters champion Mickelson can dethrone the 14-times major winner if he triumphs at this week’s Players Championship in Florida and Woods finishes outside the top five in the tournament dubbed the ‘fifth major’.
“I’ve had it happen before,” Woods told a news conference on Tueaday, referring to David Duval and Vijay Singh.
“The whole idea to be No. 1 and continue being No. 1, you have to win tournaments and I haven’t done that in a while.”
“We’ve been going at it for 13 years. “It’s gone in streaks where I’ll get him, he’ll get me and it goes in little spurts. Right now he’s won a few and hopefully I can win a few myself.”
Woods, who recently returned to golf after a break of five months following revelations about extra-marital affairs, appeared subdued during his 21-minute appearance in front of the media.
The American spoke about the difficulty of trying to reform his behaviour while in the public eye.
“I’ve had a lot of people question my life over the last six months. A lot has happened. I’ve had two different low moments (during my life), what I’m going through and then my father’s death (in 2006),” he said.
“This is more taxing away from the golf course, with paparazzi following me and all those kind of things.
“I certainly didn’t have the distraction last time getting ready for events. You know, helicopters don’t normally fly over you on the range and kind of hover and film you. That wasn’t the case then but it is now.
“I’m trying to make life adjustments. A lot of people, when they go through treatment, they’ve able to make these adjustments in anonymity; I’m not and that makes it a lot more difficult.”
Woods also shrugged off a Sports Illustrated survey that revealed that 24 percent of his fellow pros on the PGA Tour suspect that he has used performance-enhancing substances in the past.
“I’ve never taken performance-enhancing drugs, never taken HGH (human growth hormone), never taken any of that stuff, but everyone is entitled to their opinion,” he said, not the first time he has denied using banned substances.
Woods also denied speculation that he had axed swing instructor Hank Haney following his poor showing at Quail Hollow.
“I’m still working with him,” Woods said.