Tiger Woods Tiger Woods refreshed after 2-month layoff, ready for Target World Challenge in Calif.

After taking nearly a two-month break from golf following the Presidents Cup, Tiger Woods says his competitive juices are starting to flow once again.

Woods said he's resumed practicing and is looking forward to playing in the Target World Challenge Dec. 13-16 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Woods is a three-time winner and a defending champion in the event, which he hosts.

The Target World Challenge features a field of 16 top golfers, vying for $5.75 million in prize money with the winner earning $1.35 million. Proceeds benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation.

"I'm looking forward to getting back out and competing," Woods said during a press conference to promote Nike Golf. "This past week, I started really missing getting out there and trying to beat people. Anybody at Isleworth who wants a game, we'll go out there and play, and hopefully the cash goes my way."

During the time off, Woods said he's had an opportunity to take his fitness to new heights, and he's eager to see how it translates on the golf course.

"I got a chance to work on my body and get it stronger than I've ever had it, which is fun, and I haven't put on any weight, which has been great," Woods said. "I've leaned up a little bit.

"Golfers, for some reason, since we play all year-round, we're always in a continual maintenance phase. You never get a chance to make big gains. Well, I finally got a chance this off season and it's been fun."

That can't be good news for his fellow competitors as Woods is coming off another strong season in 2007 on the PGA Tour. The world No. 1-ranked player earned his ninth PGA player of the year award in September and received his seventh Vardon Trophy in November, equaling the PGA Tour season scoring average he had in 2000 with an adjusted scoring average of 67.79.

In 2007, Woods won a PGA Tour-best seven tournaments to finish first in purse earnings with $10.8 million. In 16 starts, the 31-year-old had 12 top-10 finishes and closed the season by winning four of his final five events, including the PGA Championship and capturing the inaugural FedEx Cup.

Not to be overshadowed by his golfing accomplishments, Woods' wife Elin gave birth to the couple's first child, Sam, last summer. Woods said the joy of 2007 was a stark contrast to the previous year when his father, Earl Woods, died of cancer.

"Well, this year probably I would describe as a polar opposite of last year, not necessarily because of what I did on the golf course but what happened off it," Woods said.

Woods said his two-month layoff is the longest "non-forced" break of his professional career. In 2002, knee surgery kept Woods away from the course for a longer period of time.

While Woods said he enjoys the "freshness" of playing golf again after a long layoff, he's not above having to knock some rust off his game.

"This has always been the case with me when I come back: First day, I hit it like a god, okay? Next day, I hit it like a 5-handicapper; third day is like an 18; and then the next week or two I try and get back to hopefully a zero-handicapper. That's kind of the progression," Woods said. "I don't know why it's like that. I always start off hitting it great and then have this immediate falloff, start thinking about my game and it goes all to pieces and then I've got to build it back up again. So it's kind of fun."

Woods commits to Dubai Desert Classic

Woods announced he has committed to play in the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic Jan. 31-Feb. 3 at Emirates Golf Club. He tied for third in the event this past year after winning it in 2006.

"I always enjoy visiting Dubai," Woods said on his Web site. "It's an extremely hospitable place. The tournament usually attracts a great field and I look forward to competing."

According to Woods' Web site, he plans to announce his tentative 2008 schedule before the end of the year.

December 5, 2007

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