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Tiger Woods looking forward to 2005

Boosted by a first strokeplay title in more than a year, Tiger Woods is champing at the bit to mount a fresh major challenge in 2005.

The former world number one has not won a grand slam event since the 2002 U.S. Open but is confident his revamped swing is now ready to handle tournament pressure at the highest level.

"I'm excited things have started to come together in the last three or four months," Woods told reporters after storming to victory by eight shots at the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan on Sunday.

"The last three or four months I've been close to winning. Going through all the changes I've made with my golf swing, it was just a matter of time.

"Things are starting to click. I put together two good rounds at the Tour Championship and was finally able to put together four good rounds here."

Woods finished second in the PGA Tour's season-ending Tour Championship earlier this month, scores of 72, 64, 65 and 72 leaving him four strokes behind winner Retief Goosen.

He then made his fourth visit to Japan for last week's tournament in Miyazaki, leading from start to finish with rounds of 65, 67, 65 and 67.

The win, his first in that country, ended a run of 20 consecutive strokeplay events without victory dating back to the WGC-American Express Championship in October 2003.

It was his second tournament since his October marriage to Swedish model Elin Nordegren and he was unconcerned some might regard his victory on the Japan Tour as low-key.

"I'm sure it's not going to be important everywhere," said the eight-times major winner. "But just the way I played here, with four solid rounds, is enough for me.

"I don't worry about sending messages," added Woods, whose five-year reign as world number one was ended two months ago by Fiji's Vijay Singh.

"I'm just very excited about the prospects for next year."

Having parted from his former swing coach Butch Harmon in late 2002, Woods has been working for much of this year with Hank Haney, who also coaches his close friend Mark O'Meara.

Although he has struggled with his driving and the precision of his approach play over the last two seasons, Woods believes he is close to regaining consistency.

"I'm putting the pieces together and they're starting to come together," said the 28-year-old American. "Now I just need to build more consistency and do it week-in and week-out.

"That's why I made the changes. Hopefully I can keep refining things so that I will be able to put myself in contention at all four majors."

Woods has unquestionably lost the aura of dominance he enjoyed over his rivals in 2000 when he won the last three majors of the year.

However, there is once more a spring in the step of the Tiger as he prepares to contend with the likes of U.S. Masters champion Phil Mickelson, Fijian Singh and world number three Ernie Els at next year's majors.

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