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Tiger Woods seeks return to form at Torrey Pines

Tiger Woods
Woods endured a frustrating time on the course in 2010

Tiger Woods returns to the scene of one of his famous wins on Thursday when he begins his 2011 season at the Farmer's Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

The 35-year-old, who has dropped to world number three, has not played at the course since battling knee trouble to win a play-off in the 2008 US Open.

That was his 14th major but he finished 2010 without any win for the first time since turning professional in 1996.

Phil Mickelson and the Tour's newest winner Jhonattan Vegas also feature.

Rookie Vegas, 26, the only Venezuelan to compete on the US Tour, was a popular winner at the Bob Hope Classic in La Quinta, California last weekend when he beat Bill Haas and Gary Woodland in a play-off.

Woods is seeking his seventh victory at the Torrey Pines event, having won for four consecutive years from 2005.

606: DEBATE

Mickelson has won there three times, most recently in 2001 and first in 1993 when the tournament was called the Buick Invitational of California.

Woods spent more than five years as world number one but lost his top ranking to Lee Westwood last year and has now also been passed by Germany's Martin Kaymer.

Having fine-tuned his game during the close season with coach Sean Foley, Woods is confident he can recapture his form.

"It's been a while since I have had a full off-season. I've been hurt quite a bit over that period and it's nice to have a true off-season to work on my game," he said.

"I didn't focus on my short game as much as I needed to and have in the past. It was because I was making changes to my swing and I needed to spend more time on that. But I have had time to work on my short game during this off-season.

"You need to hit thousands of balls and we were not able to do that last year and last year was one of the worst putting years I have had.

"I was consumed by other things last year and had to deal with that, but life moves on and that's what's exciting. I have a proper perspective on things. My kids are doing great and golf is now somewhere down the list after that."

In the first two rounds this week Woods will play alongside Rocco Mediate, who lost to him in an absorbing 19-hole play-off at the 2008 US Open, when Woods defied a serious knee injury that eventually required surgery.

"He's tired of seeing what he's seeing," Mediate said of Woods and his current form. "He'll fix it. He'll definitely fix it. He's not going away. I still think he's the best player. I don't care what the rankings say."

The defending champion is Ben Crane and asked about his own prospects of recording back-to-back wins at Torrey Pines, he replied: "I'm thinking about it casually here, but I'm not really expecting a lot this week.

"What are the chances that someone actually defends their title when they're not Tiger Woods? It doesn't happen very often."



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see also
Win puts Kaymer second in world
23 Jan 11 |  Golf
McDowell beats Woods in play-off
05 Dec 10 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf
Westwood starts 2011 in Abu Dhabi
19 Jan 11 |  Golf


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