Golf: Woods' desire for Classic victory burns strong

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The Independent Online
TIGER WOODS, despite feeling fatigued from a 20-hour flight and a gruelling tournament schedule, was confident yesterday that he could shake off jet lag and extend his four-tournament winning streak at the Johnnie Walker Classic, which starts here today.

"It took us 20 hours to get here. We stopped in Dubai and Bangkok," said Woods, who arrived on Tuesday after winning the American Express Championship at Valderrama, Spain, on Sunday. "The time change hasn't been too hard to get over, but hard enough. Last night I didn't sleep all that well," said Woods, adding that he was fortunate to have a late tee-off time in the first round.

Woods, who had won the NEC Invitational, Disney Classic and Tour Championship prior to his Spanish victory and has recorded eight tournament successes in all this season, is also the defending champion in the Classic, which was held in Thailand last year.

Woods said competing in Asia is special because his mother is Thai and has some Chinese ancestry. "For me, coming to Asia is like coming home," he said. "I was raised under an Asian culture. My mother was very strict, as are most Asians."

Woods said from what he has read and seen so far of Taiwan, the island's terrain and culture reminds him of Thailand. "I've always wanted to visit Taiwan and China and see the rich history," he said.

Woods will probably be visiting the region more often in the future as his Tiger Woods Foundation expands into Asia. The foundation, which teaches golf to underprivileged children, will be setting up operations in Thailand soon, and may also hold programmes in China and Japan. He said: "Maybe there will be a champion golfer, who knows?"

Woods does not believe that his recent string of victories has softened his desire to win in Taiwan. "Every time I tee up, I tee up to win," he said. "That's always been my goal since I was a little boy and that hasn't changed."

Other golfers have remarked that the long course at Ta Shee would favour a powerful driver like Woods, but the 23-year-old said that might not be the case.

"The course is long on the scorecard, but it doesn't play that long because the fairways are playing really fast," Woods said.

"Drives get so much bounce that some players known as long hitters have been handling the fairways in practice sessions with smaller clubs, such as nine irons and eight irons, even on par-five holes."