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Lack of rivals no factor in Tiger's dominance, says Watson


PEBBLE BEACH, California (Reuters) - Tiger Woods's dominance owes more to his own remarkable abilities than the failure of others to provide a genuine rivalry, according to golfing great Tom Watson.

"It's just incredible what Tiger has done," eight-times major winner Watson told reporters on Wednesday as he prepared for this week's Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

"He is on a roll the likes of which we have never seen in the game of golf.

"I think he is just that much better (than his rivals). That's what I said right at the beginning.

"This young man has raised the bar so high nobody has ever seen it this high. And the thing about it is he is continuing to keep it high above everybody else."

World number one Tiger Woods has piled up 12 major titles, with only Jack Nicklaus ahead of him in the all-time standings on 18.

Since turning professional in late 1996, Tiger Woods has won 55 events on the PGA Tour, seven of them coming in his last seven starts

Only fellow American Byron Nelson has claimed more in a row with an astonishing run of 11 in 1945.

"I'm not disparaging what you (the media) wrote about him two years ago when he was really in a 'slump', when he only won five times," the 57-year-old Watson added.

"Five times? I remember leading the Tour with just three victories one year.

"You know, life is just cycles. Some years Tiger Woods is going to be that much better, other years he is going to be average and still beat everybody's butt."

LEAN SPELL

Tiger Woods experienced a relatively lean spell while undergoing the second swing change of his career from mid-2002 to the end of 2004.

He failed to win a single major title between the 2002 U.S. Open and the 2005 Masters.

Asked whether any single attribute of Tiger Woods' game stood out, Watson replied: "It is the all-round package with Tiger

Byron, my good friend, said when Tiger was aged 16: 'There is not a flaw in his game'.

"Look what he has done with his golf swing since then. It's a little bit more of a shut face now he is more down the line. He has done everything that he can to improve, to be the best.

"His life is changing and he's going to become a father but he's developed into a player who is very aware of his surroundings," added Watson, whose last major victory came in the 1983 British Open at Royal Birkdale.

"He also understands that, without the work ethic, he is not going to achieve what he wants to achieve.

"I assume what he wants to achieve is to be the best and break all the records. And maybe 11 in a row, Byron's record."

The Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the sixth event on the 2007 PGA Tour, starts on Thursday.


Read more at http://today.reuters.co.uk


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