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Tiger still a big factor says Thomas Bjorn

Tiger Woods still exerts a powerful influence on golf despite his failure to win many tournaments recently, top Danish golfer Thomas Bjorn said on Tuesday.

"Tiger Woods has been and is still the dominant figure. It doesn't mean because he is not winning that regularly, that his effect on the game has disappeared," Bjorn told Reuters after signing up for the $2.2 million Dubai Desert Classic.

"Don't forget it was Tiger who took the game to a different level, an achievement which led other golfers to raise their game.

"It is primarily because players like Ernie Els and Vijay Singh have stepped up their game tremendously over the years that the Tiger factor, in a way, has become less intimidating.

"Certainly, it will be too harsh to say he is not playing as well as he used to, but I have no doubt in mind that he will eventually regain the number one place. It's a matter of time," said the Dane.

American Woods is second to Fiji's Singh in the world rankings.

Bjorn said Singh had worked tirelessly for his success.

"I don't think any sportsman in any field works so hard to improve his game. All players have some hobbies other than the sport they pursue. Like some tennis players play golf, but in the case of Vijay golf is his career and his hobby."

Bjorn said his own golf had turned a corner recently.

"I played my best golf during the 2001-2002 season and I think I am very close to that this season," said Bjorn who finished second in China in November and fourth in Hong Kong last month.

"Golf is all about winning and though I am not winning, I am pretty close to that. I have a fairly good clue about my game.

The Dubai Desert classic runs from March 3 to 6 at the Emirates Golf Club's Majlis Course.


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