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Woods confident of Masters glory

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Woods' confidence silences news conference

World number one Tiger Woods believes he can repeat his feat of a Grand Slam of majors and he intends to start with victory at the US Masters.

Woods, going for a 15th major win, tees off alongside Stewart Cink and Jeev Milkha Singh at 1852 BST on Thursday.

"Well, I know I can do it - I've done it before (in 2001)," said four-time Augusta winner Woods.

"It's just a matter of winning the right four at the right time, so hopefully it will start this week."

And asked if he expected to win at Augusta this week, the American simply said: "Always."

Defending champion Trevor Immelman will begin his campaign 11 minutes earlier while Padraig Harrington, winner of the last two majors, starts at 1534 BST with Mike Weir and Ryuji Imada.

USPGA and Open champion Harrington is halfway towards a Grand Slam but Woods has warned the Irishman of the size of his task.

Padraig Harriton
Harrington is bidding for his third consecutive Grand Slam title

"It's not going to be easy," he said. "I remember trying to do it myself and it's hard to peak four straight times.

"There are a lot of factors that go into it. Having your game come together, playing well at the right time and on top of that getting the right breaks.

"People don't realise, just one gust of wind here or there is a shot that you don't think could cost you the tournament on Thursday, but sometimes it does."

Woods is searching for his fifth Masters victory in his first major appearance since recovering from reconstructive knee surgery.

The 33-year-old underwent the operation after a brilliant play-off victory over fellow American Rocco Mediate at the US Open at Torrey Pines in June, despite playing through severe pain.

Woods underlined his prospects for a 15th major title after victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last week in only his third tournament of the year.

"The week at Bay Hill was great, to feel that rush and see how my body would react," said Woods. "After months of rehabilitation, it felt great to hit shots.

606: DEBATE
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"It's nice to have a little momentum going into the Masters. The win at Bay Hill validated all the hard work after my knee surgery."

Harrington himself has cooled talk of a hat-trick ahead of Thursday's opening round.

"It's certainly adding a bit to the story but it's gotten to the level that adding any more on doesn't make any difference in how I feel," said Harrington.

"It's a chance to win another major. It's a chance to win the Masters. All of those things bring their own pressure, (but) it doesn't make the pressure any different to turning up at any major and trying to win it."

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy tees off in the last group at 1903 BST while Englishman Oliver Wilson is alongside Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Australian Stuart Appleby who tee off at 1556 BST.

Masters weather - The latest from Augusta

And Garcia says that despite Woods' lack of match practice, he is still the player everyone should fear.

"Tiger is always the man to beat, wherever and whenever he plays. I need to regain a little bit of confidence at The Masters and then we will see if I can get it going again," he said.

"Last year I played better but didn't putt great. I was just at the beginning of my work with Stan Utley, my short-game coach, and Augusta's greens are not the easiest when you're just starting on some new things.

"Maybe I was trying to guide the ball too much to ensure I was in the right spots off the tee. It's better to be a bit loose and that's what I'm going to try to do this year.

"If you try to change your game for Augusta, that is when you start going south. We'll see how it goes, but I'm certainly looking forward to playing it again."



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Augusta tee-off times
07 Apr 09 |  Golf


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