THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. —
Woods can measure progress this year not only by three wins, but by playing his biggest schedule since 2009. The World Challenge, which he has won five times as the tournament host, is his 24th week of competition (including the Ryder Cup and the exhibition in Turkey).
And as much as Woods likes McIlroy as a person — who doesn’t? — and talks about the importance of at least being in the conversation when it comes to the best in golf, he has never faced a challenge like this. Vijay Singh had a better season than McIlroy in 2004 when the Fijian won nine times, but he was in his early 40s then.
“I think anything other guys do motivates Tiger,” Steve Stricker said. “He’s so competitive, and he’s been in that position over the years where he’s been No. 1 in the world, and him not being there has surely got to be motivation for him.”