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24 May 2024

I'm in best shape for a decade, says Woods


Former world number one Tiger Woods says he is in the best shape physically at the start of the season in more than a decade as he arrived in the UAE capital for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

The ê2.7-million tournament, starting Thursday, kicks off the 2012 season for the 14-time Major champion, who is hoping to win his first full-field tournament since the Australian Masters in November 2009.

But now, fully recovered from his knee problems and his confidence boosted by a win at the limited-field Chevron World Challenge last month, the world No 25 is raring to go.

Woods, who will be making his Abu Dhabi debut after restricting himself to playing in neighbouring Dubai for the last decade, said: "It's been quite a few years since I've been physically fit.

"So I'm looking forward to getting out there and then playing and give it a full season, which I haven't done in a while, so I'm really looking forward to it.

"I don't know, probably eight, 10, 12 years ago was the last time I felt fully fit. I had surgery in 2002. I had surgery in 2008. A couple other ones in there, too. It's been a while.

"I played really well my last three events, so I'm really looking forward to this year, and continuing and building on what we have done towards the end of last year for sure."

More than the Chevron win, Woods said it was his performance in Australia last year, where he was in contention at the Australian Open and played well in the Presidents Cup, that gives him high hopes for the season.

"I think Australia was pretty big for me to go down there for two weeks and play in that type of wind, and to hit the ball as well as I did," he said.

"I really controlled my golf ball for two weeks, and you know, I think that led to what I did at the World Challenge.

"I hit the ball just as well there, and made a couple of putts, and especially on the last two holes there.
You know, consequently, got a W (win)," said Woods, who can rise to inside the top-10 of the world rankings with a win this week.

The tournament has attracted a magnificent field with the top-four players in the world rankings - Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy and three-time champion Martin Kaymer respectively in the startling line-up.

Woods said there was no frustration that the Chevron win came towards the end of a frustrating season, just when his game was looking good enough for further glory.

"No, not at all. Because I spent quite a bit of energy getting ready for those three events, I really did need to take a break," he said.

"Just kind of more mentally than anything, just get away from the game, because I was working hard and just trying to get my game peaking for those events.

"I spent quite a bit of time just preparing, and you know, when I have kind of set my mind to something like that, I need to take a break from it.

"So, it was nice to take that break. It's the only reason why I take breaks throughout the year, because I set out certain goals throughout the year and try to get ready.

"Since I was not able to get ready for the major championship season last year, I kind of spent a lot of my energy getting ready for those three events, and turned out to be pretty good."

Woods, who was reportedly paid in the region of ê2 million to play in the tournament, was candid enough to accept that appearances fee did dictate his schedule to a point.

"I'd have to say yes, it certainly does. That's one of the reasons why a lot of the guys who play in Europe, they do play in Europe, and they do get paid. I think the only Tour that doesn't pay is the US Tour," said Woods.