Tiger on charm offensive


NEW YORK, March 17 – Tiger Woods, mired in the longest winless drought of his career, said he is confident he will pass Jack Nicklaus for the all-time major record during a media charm offensive Wednesday.

On the same day Woods confirmed he will play next week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and the Masters at Augusta National, the 14-time major champion handled an interview blitz in Madison Avenue, New York.

Asked by ESPN if he still thinks he will break the record 18 major titles won by Nicklaus, Woods replied, "Absolutely."

Pressed, in the wake of a slump that has seen him winless in 17 events over 16 months since a sex scandal led to the end of his marriage and endorsement riches, for a reason why, Woods replied, "I believe in myself."

Woods spoke with several other media outlets ahead of the March 29 release of his latest videogame, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters, which will include famed Augusta National for the first time on any videogame.

Woods has won four green jackets, the sign of supremacy at Augusta National. He won his first major title there in 1997, completed a "Tiger Slam" of four major wins in a row there in 2001, defended the crown in 2002 and won his fourth Masters in 2005.

"I’ve always loved playing there," Woods said. "It’s just so cool. It’s as good as it gets."

Woods was set to play the game against television show hosts on NBC and the Golf Channel and videotaped an interview to air on ABC on Thursday morning.

A six-time winner at Bay Hill, Woods captured the event from 2000 through 2003 and again in 2008 and 2009.

Woods did not defend his crown in 2010, the event falling during a five-month hiatus from golf in the wake of revelations regarding multiple mistresses.

"I’ve had some success there, but you need to go out and do it all over again," Woods said. "And they have made some changes to the golf course. I watched the (2010) tournament on TV. It looked a lot different."

Among his Bay Hill rivals will be reigning Masters champion Phil Mickelson, defending champion Ernie Els and reigning US Open champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.