Why Tiger Woods Can't Afford to Not Win a Major in 2013

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2013

Woods' primary goal is bringing home at least one major championship in 2013.
Woods' primary goal is bringing home at least one major championship in 2013.Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The 2012 golf season was a step in the right direction for Tiger Woods.

After three straight years of watching his golf game fall apart, Woods started to recapture the form that made him a golf sensation.

Woods won three PGA tournaments last year and finished second on the money-earning list behind Rory McIlroy. It was a solid comeback season and everyone in golf recognized that Woods was moving in the right direction.

However, there were still a few holes in Woods' game last year. Most notably, it was his inability to compete in the major championships and have a legitimate chance to win.

During his heyday, Woods would assert himself early in major championships and build a lead during the first three rounds before making the Sunday round his coronation.

Last year, Woods was unable to assert himself. He often looked competitive for the first two rounds of the majors, but fell apart on moving day and was unable to produce any final round miracles.

That was last year. While finishing in second place overall at the end of the year is beyond most golfers' dreams, it's obviously not what Woods is about.

McIlroy told ESPN.co.UK that he believes Woods is on top of his game and will return to championship form in the majors.

He's had his chances in the majors going into the weekends, and it just hasn't quite happened for him. But for sure he's going to keep putting himself up there in positions, and he's going to have a lot of chances to win tournaments and majors.

Woods has 14 major championships and he wants to pick up his chase of Jack Nicklaus once again. Nicklaus, of course, has 18 major titles. Woods has not won one since picking up the 2008 U.S. Open championship by beating Rocco Mediate in a playoff.

Woods started the 2013 season in excellent form on the PGA Tour when he won the Farmers Insurance Open in January.

He did it in old-style Woods fashion, building a huge lead through three rounds and then cruising in the final round.

That's a good sign for Woods. When he wins early in the year, it gives him a chance to feel confident about his game and every reason to think that he can play that way in the major tournaments as well.

It's all about continuing to make progress. If Woods wins three or four tournaments in 2013 and none of them is a major, he will not be satisfied.

It will be particularly difficult if he can't even contend in the majors.

Woods wants to become the world's best player again, and he wants major championships.

Woods has 75 tour victories to his credit and Sam Snead's all-time record of 82 victories is certainly within his reach. However, it's Nicklaus' record that he wants.

If he can't break his major championship drought this year, it could mean that he will never get the record that he wants.

Sooner or later he's going to have to win a major again. The 2013 season appears to be pivotal for him.

Woods has shown he can dominate a field and put it away in a major championship. He needs to do that again—or at least sneak out with a one-stroke victory in the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open or PGA Championship—if he is going to reach his long-time career goals.