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Warren Bennett

Tiger Woods aiming to win own event

Tiger Woods had another great season. But there's one more thing he wants.

"I would love to win here," Woods said Tuesday, two days before he hosts the $3.8 million Williams Open, an unofficial event featuring 18 of the world's best players.

The tournament will be held at the Sherwood Country Club, which is about an hour's drive from where Woods grew up in Southern California.

Woods, the world's No. 1 player and one of the most recognizable athletes in sports, expects to be followed by throngs of people. He always is, but this week is different.

"This is how it used to be playing in junior golf," said Woods, who will be 26 on December 30. "You would have mom and pop following you and your friends following you, and that to me is pretty cool."

Woods has played in front of friends and family before, with the PGA Tour's Nissan Open being held at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.

In 1998 and 1999, Woods was a runner-up at the Nissan, losing a playoff to Billy Mayfair before finishing in a three-way tie for second behind Ernie Els. The close calls would make a win here that much sweeter.

"There is no doubt about that," said Woods, who claimed The Masters among his five PGA wins in 2001 and earned Player of the Year honors and the money title for the third straight year. "I've come close a couple of times."

Woods isn't the only elite player in the field. He is joined by David Duval, Davis Love III, Vijay Singh of Fiji and David Toms, among others.

Five of the best players from the European Tour -- Padraig Harrington of Ireland, Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland, Colin Montgomerie of Scotland, Denmark's Thomas Bjorn and Britain's Lee Westwood -- also are here.

Of the 18 players entered, 15 will represent their countries in the 2002 Ryder Cup and 16 are ranked 32nd are higher in the world.

Love won last year's title at Sherwood with a 72-hole total of 22-under-par 266 -- two strokes better than Woods, who was second. Woods was 10th in 1999, when Tom Lehman won the inaugural crown at Grayhawk Golf Club in Arizona.

This is the final "Silly Season" event of the year. The 2002 PGA Tour schedule gets under way January 3 with the winners-only Mercedes Championship in Hawaii.

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