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Tiger Woods only in Thailand to win

Event Coverage

The world's No. 1 golfer, who recently signed a $100 million endorsement deal with Nike Inc., will tee off Thursday in the tournament, hoping to recapture the title he won two years ago.

``I would love to launch the New Year with a victory, (so) this tournament is very important,'' he told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

``The sole reason I go to a tournament is to play for a win. If you don't have that attitude, then there is no sense in going.''

Woods, whose mother is a Thai, is a national hero in Thailand and has been under intense media glare even before his arrival on Tuesday to play at the par-72, 6,986-yard Alpine layout, designed by Ron Garl.

On Tuesday, he received an honorary doctorate from a local university in sports science. Outside the hotel ballroom where the ceremony was held, about two dozen activists protested to demand that Nike provide its 70,000 workers in Thailand with better working conditions.

The protesters urged Woods to speak on their behalf with Nike executives, pointing out that his one-day salary is as much as the daily wages of 14,000 Nike workers in Thailand.

Nike, the Beaverton, Ore., company, subcontracts smaller factories in Thailand, Vietnam and other countries to produce its shoes and garments. Nike says its working conditions are among the best, and that its workers are generally satisfied with wages.

Woods did not speak about the protest at the news conference, but said he could have never imagined the ``hysteria'' around his success.

``No one can ever prepare you for that,'' he said. ``All you know as a kid is to hit a golf shot and try to win tournaments and beat your heroes. No one ever thinks about the other side of it.''

He said he had high goals and expectations this year, but couldn't meet them all. His second failure in recent weeks was at Valderrama, Spain, at the World Golf Championships.

``I was able to accomplish some of them but not all. But that's what you need ... to strive for something else,'' he said.

Woods' main rival Thursday in the 132-man field is expected to be Spain's Sergio Garcia.

Woods' presence will raise every player's level, he said.

``He is playing at a great level and we have to try and keep up with him. We are all trying to improve, and thanks to him we are doing that,'' he said.

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