I`ve rarely been fitter than now, says Woods

Abu Dhabi: Tiger Woods has declared he is the fittest he has been in around a decade ahead of his first tournament of the year.

Woods will start his 16th season in the professional ranks in Thursday`s Abu Dhabi Championship, the first time the world number 25 and former number one has teed-off in the United Arab Emirates capital.

"Actually it`s been quite a few years since I`ve been physically fit," Woods told reporters on Tuesday.

"So I`m looking forward to getting out there and then playing and giving it a full season, which I haven`t done in a while, so I`m really looking forward to that.

"It`s probably been about eight, 10, 12 years ago I felt 100 percent. I had surgery in 2002. I had surgery in 2008. A couple of others ones in there, too.”

"I missed most of last year and then to finally be able to get ready for a tournament properly and to do the type of lifting that I think I need to do to be ready, I was finally able to do that.”

"Hence my game came around, so it`s very exciting."

Woods last competed when winning December`s Chevron World Challenge that ended a two-year winless drought for the 36-year old, who has had to deal with personal problems during his slide down the rankings.

The American - a winner of 14 majors - will tee-up in Abu Dhabi with a formidable record in the Middle East having previously competed in the Dubai Desert Classic on six occasions, winning in 2006 and 2008 and only finishing outside the top-five once.

Woods again expressed his disappointment when asked about the decision of former coach Hank Haney to release a book entitled `The Big Miss`, chronicling his time working with Woods.

"Am I disappointed? Yes. Frustrated? Certainly, because I have to answer the questions. It`s been a while, you know, since I haven`t had to answer those questions."

Bureau Report