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Tiger Woods heads for busy off season

Tiger Woods, a master of trimming his playing schedule to peak for the big events, had little time to spare at the end of the 2005 PGA Tour.

Within hours of his runner-up place behind surprise winner and fellow American Bart Bryant at East Lake Golf Club on Sunday, the world number one was on a plane for Shanghai and this week's Champions tournament.

"I'm excited about the prospects of my fall (autumn) season and next year because of the things that have transpired this week," Woods told reporters after completing his 13th top-10 finish of the U.S. season in 21 starts.

"Playing around the world is one of the perks of professional golf and I have been eager to work a return visit to China into my schedule.

"There is a real buzz about golf in China as it grows in popularity so I think it will be an amazing week for both the players and the fans," added Woods, who led the 2005 PGA Tour in earnings with a career-best $10.6 million.

The inaugural Champions tournament, the richest event in Asian golf history with a purse of $5 million, is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the European Tour, the PGA Tour of Australia and the South African Sunshine Tour.

Starting at the Sheshan International Golf Club on Thursday, the event brings together title winners from the four sanctioning tours. Its impressive entry list includes world number two Vijay Singh and U.S. PGA champion Phil Mickelson.

"I like the concept of crowning the Champion of Champions from four major Tours and certainly hope that I can top off my year by winning the inaugural HSBC Champions title," added U.S. Masters and British Open champion Woods.

Fijian Singh, a four-times winner on this year's PGA Tour, is delighted to be returning to the continent of his birth.

"I think the HSBC Champions is going to be a really exciting fixture on our golfing calendar and, with a prize fund of $5 million, the largest in the history of Asian and Chinese golf, it is an event we all want to win," he said in a statement.

The Champions tournament, the opening event on the 2006 European Tour, has also attracted U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell and European number one Colin Montgomerie.

"I am looking to get my 2006 campaign off to a great start and to consolidate my position on the Ryder Cup rankings," said Montgomerie, who clinched a record eighth European order of merit title at the season-ending Volvo Masters last month.

"A win or a good finish at the HSBC Champions would certainly do that."

November 8, 2005

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