Tiger's streak is something to behold

Updated: January 31, 2007, 10:58 AM ET
By Bob Harig | Special to ESPN.com

In his own mind, it is not really a streak, although you'd have difficulty finding anyone else who would quibble. Yes, there were a couple of instances overseas in recent months when Tiger Woods stood by as someone else held up the trophy. Details. Details.

But we're talking about the PGA Tour, where Woods has now won seven straight after another victory at the Buick Invitational on Sunday. The quest for No. 8 will have to wait, as Woods has a date this week in Dubai, site of another big-money European Tour event.

Tiger Woods
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesWoods would traditionally make his next PGA Tour start at the Nissan, which he's only missed once since turning professional.
What happens in the Persian Gulf matters to him, his banker, caddie and agent -- but it will have no bearing on the streak. Byron Nelson's record of 11 in a row set in 1945 is now officially in sight, and as absurd as that sounds, are you willing to bet against him?

Since July, Woods has finished no worse than second in any stroke play event. He won the British Open and the PGA Championship in that stretch. He won two World Golf Championship events. Yes, he finished second at tournaments in China and Japan, lost in the first round of the World Match Play, but he also won two offseason events that don't count.

It is an incredible run that will resume ... somewhere. But where?

Woods was typically coy on Sunday about where he would return to the PGA Tour. The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in two weeks is out because it will follow the long trip to Dubai. But the Nissan Open in Los Angeles would almost certainly be his next stop. Or would it?

Woods has skipped his hometown tournament just once since turning pro in 1996. It is where he played in his first PGA Tour event as a 16-year-old amateur in 1992. There is a lot of history at Riviera Country Club, and it is hard to envision Woods skipping -- except for the fact that he's never won the tournament.

For all of his success -- 55 PGA Tour victories, 12 major championships -- Woods has never won the Nissan Open. He lost in a playoff in 1998 when it was moved to Valencia Country Club. (Try this trivia question on your friends: Who beat Woods in the playoff? Billy Mayfair).

He has three other top-10s in the tournament, but it is the one place he has played the most and accomplished the least. Would he skip for that reason? Doubtful. If Woods passes on Riviera, it will likely be due to other reasons, such as gearing up for the Masters. Woods said a fifth green jacket is more important than the streak.

The week after Nissan is an event with plenty of question marks, too. The WGC-Accenture Match Play is a tournament he's won twice, so that's no problem. But it is at a new venue in Tucson, Ariz. How it sets up for him won't be known until that week.

After that, things become a bit easier to figure out. He is likely to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational (Bay Hill) and the CA Championship (Doral). Woods won Bay Hill four straight years, from 2000-03. He won the past two full-field events at Doral, which is being replaced by the former American Express Championship, a tournament he's won five times, including the past two.

So, depending on what Woods decides to do, he could either be trying to tie or break Nelson's record at the Masters.

And if it gets to that point, good luck to Woods -- or anyone -- trying to argue whether or not it's a streak.

Bob Harig covers golf for the St. Petersburg Times and is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at harig@sptimes.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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