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American Express Championship

Tiger Woods aiming to finish season in style

Tiger Woods can break another record and put the gloss on a brilliant campaign with victory at the WGC-American Express Championship this week.

A second World Golf Championship title to add to a Presidents Cup win and victories at the U.S. Masters and British Open would be a satisfying finish to a year that has seen him return to the top of the world rankings.

Woods will also be bidding for an unprecedented 10th WGC individual title as he returns to the Harding Park Golf Course, a course he played several times as a student.

The world number one says he has fully recovered from a rib injury that hampered him at the Presidents Cup two weeks ago.

"I feel pretty good," said Woods. "I did some good work. I was in Vegas seeing my trainer and we were grinding pretty hard for about four days. He got me feeling really good.

"I just had those ribs issues there at the Presidents Cup. I had to get those things calmed down, get the muscles relaxed and strengthen them."

The WGC events have proved a happy hunting ground for Woods and he has mined 20 percent of his career earnings from them, winning more than $11.6m from nine wins in 18 starts.

Woods won the biggest cheque of his career when he picked up $1.3 million for winning the Invitational in August and a win on Sunday would put him within striking distance of the earnings record of $10.9 million set by Vijay Singh last season.

"When I had the record and the money title, it's very misleading," said Woods. "It changes because obviously the purses go up.

"I'd much rather keep having the highest total for wins every year. If I keep doing that, things will be all right."

Woods might not remember much about Harding Park from his university days as the municipal course has undergone a $16 million renovation to restore the layout to its former grandeur.

There is some question whether the par 70, 7,086 yard layout can withstand an all-out assault by the world's top players but there is no disputing the high regard Woods has for it.

"It's different and it's fun because we don't get a chance to play these courses very often," said Woods. "It's nice to play a golf course we can shape balls again.

"It's a lot different golf course than when I played it. It's certainly not the same golf course. It's unbelievable how much they've changed the golf course.

"If the wind doesn't blow, then the guys are probably going to shoot some pretty good scores out here.

"The golf course has some good holes on it, challenging holes, but the par-fives are reachable."

The $7.5 million event, the third of the four stops on the WGC, involves the leading 30 players in the PGA money list, the top 20 in the European order of merit and leading performers from other tours.

Singh, the world number two, and PGA champion Phil Mickelson will be among those teeing off on Thursday but South Africa's Ernie Els will not be able to defend his title because of a season-ending knee injury.

"It's very similar to a major championship," said Woods. "We don't get a chance to play against the best very often anymore. Everyone plays their own tours.

"When we do get together, it's not as often, but when you do it's pretty exciting."


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