Tiger sees contending as next step to regaining top form

Bernie McGuire
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US golfer Tiger Woods, pictured July 2018, will tee off in the opening round of the US PGA Dell Technologies Championship, seeking his first victory in more than five years

Tiger Woods says the secret to recapturing the dominating form that made him a 14-time major champion in an era of younger rivals is to keep putting himself in contention.

The 42-year-old American tees off in Friday's opening round of the US PGA Dell Technologies Championship, the second event of the tour's season-ending playoffs, seeking his first victory in more than five years.

Woods, whose 79 career PGA titles are three shy of Sam Snead's all-time record, has not competed at TPC Boston since 2013, where his best finish was a runner-up effort behind Phil Mickelson in 2007.

Asked what he needed to do to reclaim the intimidating aura he once owned against a new generation of rivals, Woods said he has to put himself in the title hunt as he did in finishing second to Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship earlier this month.

"The thing is for me is to just keep getting there in the mix and keep getting there on that back nine late on a Sunday with a chance to win," Woods said.

"It's just a matter of giving myself a lot of opportunities and in order to win you have to be there. I've been there enough this year and clearly learned a lot from it."

In 15 events this season, Woods has also shared second at the Valspar Championship and fifth at Bay Hill in March and briefly led on Sunday at the British Open before sharing sixth.

It's not a bad comeback season for a star who underwent spinal fusion surgery last year and wondered if he might ever play again.

"This has been one of my best years, considering that I didn't know what I was going to do," Woods. said. "I just didn't have a clue.

"And the fact that I've been able to make it this far is very exciting to me. I have a bright future ahead of me because at this point last year that wasn't the case, didn't know. But now I know that I sort of have a bright future."

- Rory watches his teen swing -

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy tries to regain winning form after 2012 and 2016 titles in Boston but comes off a share of 50th at the PGA Championship. Last week, he watched videos of his age-16 swing with coach Michael Bannon to try and make a breakthrough at age 29.

"In looking at videos of myself I was very impressed," McIlroy said. "There have been times where I swung it well and the results have followed on from that.

"It made me realize, OK I can do this again. It was good to see all that video. And even just watching it you start to feel the feelings that you might need to get back into those positions. So it was a beneficial week."

- Defending champ Thomas rested -

Third-ranked defending champion Justin Thomas comes to Boston assured of his first Ryder Cup berth but hoping to defend his crown and boost his chances to win the $10 million playoff top prize at the Tour Championship in Atlanta in three weeks.

"These playoffs are also extremely important and have a lot on the line, so, we're trying to keep our bodies rested for each and every week we play," Thomas said.

"Also, it's great anytime you can come to a place that you've not only won, but to defend your title."