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Tiger Woods confident about US Open chances

Tiger Woods, coming off three top-four finishes in the past month, enters next week's US Open excited about his game and confident he will play well at the year's second major championship.

"I'll spend this week fine-tuning my game, but I know I'm on the right track," Woods wrote in his monthly e-mail message to fans through his website. "I'm very excited about the way I'm playing."

In his only PGA events since sharing 22nd at the Masters, Woods shared third last month in Charlotte and fourth last month at the Byron Nelson Classic before settling for another share of third at last week's Memorial Tournament.

"I've done well in my last three starts, and hopefully that good play will carry over to Shinnecock Hills," Woods wrote.

"Although I didn't win (last week), I hit a lot of quality shots and my hard work paid off. I've been feeling my swing come together at each and every tournament and have had no hiccups this spring.

"I keep telling people my game is close but apparently some don't believe me. Unless you watch me hit shots every day it's impossible to understand how much progress I've made.

"I felt very comfortable with my driver at the Memorial and the rest of my game is coming around. In short, I've been making baby steps. Slow and steady progress. When you change things, it doesn't happen overnight."

The only victory this year so far for Woods came at the World Golf Championships Match-Play showdown where he took home 1.2 million dollars.

"If I had to sum up the first half of the PGA Tour season, I would say it has been both good as well as frustrating. I haven't won as much as I would have liked and haven't quite hit the ball as well as I wanted," Woods wrote.

"But the great thing is I'm putting as well as I ever have, probably better than 2000. The problem is, a lot of them have been for pars."

But Woods remains confident in his ability to find the fairway at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, where Woods withdrew from the 1995 US Open as an amateur after hurting his wrist in the second round trying to blast out of dense rough.

"My game has changed a lot since then, but the course hasn't," Woods said. "All I know is if the wind blows, over par could win. If it doesn't, a pretty good score could win."

Woods stressed the patience needed to conquer a US Open course, with its punitive rough and narrow fairways testing every aspect of a player's game just the way the presenting US Golf Association intends.

"I've won two US Opens so I don't have a problem with that. That's just the way it is - hard but fair," Woods said. "It's not like it was in years past.

"In recent years, it seems like the USGA has tried to make it more fair and I think they have succeeded.

"On most of the long holes, the fairways are a little wider and the rough is a little shorter. On the shorter holes, the fairways are narrower and the rough is longer. As for the greens they try to get them brick-hard every year."

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