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GOLF: Woods adjusting to life after tough lessons



Tiger Woods looked long and hard at himself in 2010 and didn’t much like what he saw, but the superstar golfer says his troubles have left him “more grounded” than before. “I learned a lot about myself, and I learned how things went wrong, why they went wrong, and had to take a pretty deep and introspective look at myself. And there wasn’t a lot of things I like about it,” Woods said in a conference call for the Chevron World Challenge, the tournament he will host at Sherwood Country Club outside Los Angeles in December. “But I had to do it, and I did it, and grateful that I did,” Woods said. “I think that I come from a much better place, much more grounded place now than I ever have before.” Woods will return to play the tournament that benefits his charitable foundation after missing it the past two years.

In 2008 he was recovering from knee surgery, while last year he skipped the event in the aftermath of the late-night car crash that led to shocking revelations of his marital infidelity. Woods took four months away from the game, returning at the Masters. His equal fourth there and a tie for fourth at the US Open at Pebble Beach were his best finishes of a season in which he also implemented swing changes under the direction of a new coach. He didn’t qualify for the US PGA Tour Championship and is projected to lose his world number one ranking at the end of October, but Woods said he harbored hopes that he could yet win a tournament in 2010. He next plays at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai on November 4, and will defend his Australian Masters title before playing his own tournament in Thousand Oaks, west of Los Angeles, December 3-6.

“My game is coming around,” said Woods, who was named as a captain’s pick for the US Ryder Cup team that fell to Europe in Wales and was encouraged by his play there. “The way I played at the Ryder Cup ... I know I have two more events prior to the Chevron event. Hopefully, I can get two more Ws before I get to Chevron, and see what happens.” Woods and wife Elin Nordegren were divorced on August 23. Woods said their two young children were adapting to their new situation. “Certainly I’m a lot more at peace now,” Woods said. “Everyone’s getting used to the new living conditions. The kids are adjusting. I think everyone’s certainly more at peace, and so am I, too.”

Woods’ tournament this year will boast one of its highest quality fields. Jim Furyk will defend his title in a field that includes eight of the world’s top 10. Masters champion Phil Mickelson is the only 2010 major winner who will be missing, while Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson will be newcomers to the field. Sponsors exemptions were extended to Colombian Camilo Villegas and Stewart Cink. afp



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