Tiger optimistic entering WGC Match-Play

Updated: Feb 23, 2011, 09:59 AM IST

Marana: Tiger Woods, trying to end a 16-month victory drought, sounded upbeat about his form Tuesday on the eve of the World Golf Championships Match Play Championship, an event he has won three times.

Just two weeks ago, the 14-time major champion’s swing faults were exposed when he shot a final-round 75 in strong winds in Dubai, a performance that served as a sobering reminder that he`s far from the player who once dominated the game.

"It was nice and not so nice to have the wind blow in Dubai," Woods said. "I got exposed. I was limited in the shot selections I could hit."

Sean Foley, the swing coach Woods has been working with in recent months, has tried to focus on stretching those options.

"Sean and I worked on that in the last week. It’s getting better, no doubt about it," Woods said.

"I just didn’t quite have the understanding of how to hit all the shots in the wind. That takes time. We finally put it together and now I just need to keep working on it. Incorporating new movement patterns takes time."

Woods missed this USD 8.5 million event last year during a five-month break from golf in the wake of revelations of his multiple affairs, a sex scandal that led to his divorce from Elin Nordegren.

Friday, the day of the third-round of this 64-man event, marks exactly one year since Woods delivered his infamous 2010 apology speech in Florida, where he appeared in public for the first time in nearly three months.

World number three Woods, a bracket top seed, arrived at the Dove Mountain course less than 24 hours before his first-round match against veteran Dane Thomas Bjorn.

"I’m looking forward to getting out on the course and to see the changes they have made. From what I hear, it’s fast and firm," Woods said.

"It is fun to go head-to-head. The only problem is you can play well and go home."

Bjorn looms as a dangerous opponent for Woods. Bjorn won the Qatar Masters on the European Tour only three weeks ago and is experienced enough not to be intimidated by Woods or distracted by the gallery.

If Woods wins his opening match, he will meet either two-time WGC Match-Play champion Geoff Ogilvy of Australia or three-time major winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland in the second round.

"I`ve got to take it one match at a time," Woods said, invoking one of sport`s oldest cliches.

Bureau Report