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Recovered Tiger set for Match Play Championship

Twice winner Tiger Woods is in upbeat mood for this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, despite pulling out of the Nissan Open three days ago because of flu.

Woods, who won his first two tournaments of the year via playoffs, withdrew before the start of the third round at Riviera Country Club after losing five pounds (2.27 kg) in weight through fever.

"I feel good right now, not quite 100 percent yet but good enough," the world number one told reporters at La Costa Resort and Spa on Tuesday as he prepared for Wednesday's opening round.

"I had a fever for three days at Riviera. Playing in the rain on Friday pretty much just did me in there. So I just said: 'You know what, with the potential of having two long weeks, I need to get well.'

"And I already lost enough weight, so I just wanted to try to get my strength up.

"I tried to make the cut. I grinded and made some mistakes on the last few holes. I tried as hard as I could, but didn't really have much," added the 10-times major champion.

"Since then, I have just laid around and tried to recover.

"Overall, I feel good about what I'm working on and excited the way I've hit the ball the last two days here. I'm really excited about playing tomorrow (Wednesday)."

Woods, who starts out at La Costa against Canada's Stephen Ames, knows that world rankings and pedigree are meaningless in the context of matchplay golf.

"Anyone is easier to play in an 18-hole event," the 30-year-old American said. "If you're one of the top players in the world, anyone can shoot a low number at any time.

"Playing 18 holes is totally different than a 72-hole marathon. It's important to get off to a positive start.

"Basically, when you play matchplay events, it's the final round on the first day because anything can happen at any time. You can shoot six under par and you're packing your bags.

"There have also been matches when you're seven over par and you've won. You never know what you're going to get. And it's a totally different mindset."

Woods has a mixed record at La Costa. He won the title in 2003 and 2004 but suffered a surprise first-round defeat to Peter O'Malley in 2002 and lost to another Australian, Nick O'Hern, in the second round last year.

"That first round when I lost to Peter, it was not a good feeling," Woods recalled. "Any time you get beaten in the first round, it's always not a positive feeling.

"But I have some great memories here. I have played well here over the years."

Woods, who triumphed at the Buick Invitational in San Diego in late January before clinching the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic the following week, has a win-loss ratio of 21-4 at the Accenture Match Play Championship.

In all individual WGC (World Golf Championships) events, he has won 10 times in 19 starts.

February 22, 2006


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