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Chris DiMarco upbeat after recent win

Former champion Chris DiMarco goes into this week's Phoenix Open at Scottsdale, Arizona in upbeat mood after ending a four-year victory drought.

American DiMarco won the European Tour's inaugural Abu Dhabi Golf Championship two weeks ago to clinch his first title since the 2002 Phoenix Open.

"My confidence is pretty high with my putting," the 37-year-old told reporters after practising on the Stadium Course at the TPC of Scottsdale on Tuesday.

"I'm hitting it good, and I felt like that was the main thing (in Abu Dhabi). Plus I putted very well over there, and putting is a huge thing on our Tour, their Tour, any Tour.

"As long as I can keep that up, I should do well here. I have good memories here, and good memories go a long way."

The Ryder Cup player conceded his lengthy absence from the winner's circle had been exasperating, especially because his close calls were so often thwarted by big names in prime form.

"I just ran into the wrong guys at the wrong time," said world number eight DiMarco, who is making his first appearance on the 2006 PGA Tour this week. "One of them was Tiger Woods and one was David Toms playing his best golf.

"At the (U.S.) Masters, Tiger and I beat the field by seven but I just happened to play against Tiger Woods."

DiMarco forced a playoff at Augusta National after starting the final round three strokes behind Woods but the world number one sank an 18-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole to secure his fourth Masters title.

"At the NEC (Invitational), I posted a number and he (Woods) had three really hard holes coming in the way the course was playing and he birdied one of them to beat me by a shot," added DiMarco.

"And I don't think anybody would have beaten David Toms at the Match Play last year. The guy was phenomenal."

Toms cruised to the biggest victory in WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship final history last February, beating DiMarco 6 & 5 at La Costa Resort and Spa.

"Every time I didn't come through, it was just harder the next time," DiMarco said. "It gets very frustrating and it's good now to have it off my back.

"It was a good field over there (in Abu Dhabi). I think there were six guys in the top 14 in the world. Any W (win) is a good one. It was nice for my confidence."

This week, DiMarco faces an equally strong field. Apart from himself, five other members of the world's top 12 are in the hunt for the title.

Second-ranked Vijay Singh, who won in 1995 and 2003, is playing, along with defending champion and world number four Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia (six), Sony Open champion Toms (nine) and Kenny Perry (12).

February 1, 2006


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