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Tiger Woods seeking improvement on 2005

Fresh from the longest break he has ever taken from golf, Tiger Woods has set his sights on a 2006 season to eclipse his success of last year.

Bidding to win the Buick Invitational this week for the fourth time in eight starts, Woods regained his aura of dominance in 2005 by winning six PGA Tour titles, including the U.S. Masters and British Open.

"Hopefully I can put together some wins this year and have a more successful season than I did last year," the world number one told a news conference at Torrey Pines on Wednesday.

"The whole idea is to get better. Hopefully in my thirties I can progress and become a better player, and more of a consistent player, than I was in my twenties."

American Woods, who turned 30 on Dec. 30, has won 10 majors and piled up PGA Tour earnings of $55,770,760 since turning professional in August 1996.

Despite his success last season having just completed the second swing overhaul of his career, he believes he is ahead of schedule in his preparation for this year's majors.

"I don't have as far to go to get ready for the (April U.S.) Masters this year," said Woods, who has been working on making his backswing more consistent in recent weeks.

"Last year, I had a long way to go and I had a lot of things I needed to fix for Augusta. This year, the list is a lot shorter, and the changes aren't as big. They're small, finite."

Woods, a four-times winner at Augusta, felt he needed to take an extended break over Christmas and New Year to recharge his batteries.

"I didn't touch a club for 24 days, which is the longest I've ever gone," he said. "I decided this time that I should get away from the game completely and come back recharged.

"I was really tired towards the end of last year. My ankle wasn't doing too good and I had a little bit of a shoulder deal.

"Plus last year I did more practising than I normally do throughout the entire year because I felt there were a lot of things I needed to refine. I just needed time off.

"I didn't do much of anything. I just hung around the house, really chilled out and laid low. I went skiing for four to five days."

Woods also spent valuable time with his father Earl, who has been battling prostate cancer.

"Dad is doing better," he said. "He's hanging in there and I spent the entire break with him. It meant the world to me. I love him to death and he's my best friend."

Woods is delighted to be making his first appearance of the season at a venue he knows so well.

"I always love coming to San Diego and Torrey Pines," he said. "I've basically been playing here since I was 12 years old.

"I've had some success here even in the junior ranks and then when I came out here and played as a professional.

"The course just suits my eye," added Woods, who won the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines in 1999, 2003 and in foggy conditions last year by three strokes.

The Buick Invitational, the fourth PGA Tour event of the year, starts on Thursday.



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