Woods upbeat ahead of title defence

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The Independent Online

Tiger Woods was bullish over his prospects heading into this week's Australian Masters as he prepared for the defence of his last remaining title.

Fronting the media at Victoria Golf Club today, the American was well prepped for the inevitable probing on the upheavals in his personal life over the past 12 months.



Asked whether there was a chance this week to apply a full stop to a chain of events that started days after his win in Melbourne a year ago, Woods smiled and launched into a speech about the course and the strength of the field.



Woods was far more direct with his responses to inquiries about his form, the state of his game and his prospects of defending the 2009 title he won at Kingston Heath.



"I've got a pretty good chance of winning events if I play the way I know I can play," he said.



"I put together a really good round at the Ryder Cup on the Monday and a shared two good bookend rounds [in the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai] last week, so things are shaping up.



"I'm hitting the ball much further than I used to but I'm not as consistent as I need to be."



Woods admitted there was plenty of fine-tuning still required on the swing changes he was making with coach Sean Foley, but vowed not to let that hinder his quest to recapture the world number one ranking he recently conceded to Lee Westwood.



"Would I like to be number one in the world again? Yes, obviously," said Woods.



"But how did I get there? I won golf tournaments. And how did I remain there? I won golf tournaments.



"I haven't won anything this year so it's understandable that I'm not ranked number one.



"I have to win golf tournaments in order to get there."



Woods said he felt an "incredible" vibe from the gallery during today's pro-am and was looking forward to even better support when he sets off for his opening round from the 10th hole tomorrow.



"These are some of the greatest sporting fans and you guys love your sport down here," he said.



"Last year was buzzing. It was fun to play and I don't expect anything different this time."

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