THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — Tiger Woods believes it's harder than ever to win on the PGA Tour because of the increasing depth of talent of the players.
And most of them are at his tournament this week.
The World Challenge gets underway Thursday, held at Sherwood Country Club for the last time, and the field is so strong that the entire 18-man field is in the top 30 in the world ranking. That's what makes it difficult to win trophies.
And what's why Woods laughs at using the phrase "pretty good" to describe a year in which he won five times on the PGA Tour.
"I think it's deeper now than it ever has been," Woods said. "There is more young talent. There are more guys winning golf tournaments for the first time. If you look at the major championships, how long did we go from basically Phil winning and Phil winning?"
He was referring to the 13 majors played between Phil Mickelson winning the 2010 Masters and the British Open this year. Eleven of those champions had never won a major, the exceptions being Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy.
Of those 11 first-time major champions, only Darren Clarke has fallen lower than No. 40 in the world.
"It's more difficult to win events now," Woods said.
He pointed to advancements in equipment, particularly from wood drivers and wound golf balls. Woods says the younger players who hit the ball high "are shocked to see the ball get moved by the wind."
"For a lot of us who grew up playing balata balls, you wanted to get that thing down. You didn't want it up in that wind because it got pushed around like you wouldn't believe," he said. "It's a totally different game. Guys have evolved, and I think they've become much more aggressive now than they ever used to be because of equipment."
Separating the best players is getting more difficult.
Graeme McDowell set a target to get back into the top five in the world at the start of the season. He wanted a certain amount of world ranking points that he figured would do the trick, and he about reached that level. Little did he know that so many other players also raised the level of their game.
"It's fun to be part of it," McDowell said.
Woods dominated the PGA Tour with five wins against five tough fields, which also gave him another Vardon Trophy and money title. Henrik Stenson became the first player to win the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour and the Race to Dubai on the European Tour.
Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson had multiple wins around the world that included historic majors — Scott was the first Australian in a green jacket at Augusta National, Mickelson won a British Open that not even he thought he could ever win.