Having ended 2011 with his first victory in two years, Woods said the joy of being able to play golf with a healthy body has returned as well.
He told The Associated Press by e-mail that he has fully recovered from the leg injuries that ruined much of last season. He also hopes his recent victory at the Chevron World Challenge in California is the “start of another great run.”
“The lowest moments (last year) came from the fact that I wasn’t healthy and couldn’t put in the time on and off the course that I wanted and needed to, and that was frustrating,” Woods said. “I was playing with pain and that isn’t fun. The last couple of months have been really fun and that is mostly because I am feeling healthy again and building week on week.”
Woods is preparing for his first tournament of the year and his first in Abu Dhabi.
He will be facing a world-class field that features U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, top-ranked Luke Donald and defending champion Martin Kaymer.
The tournament starts Jan. 26 and will give a first indication of whether Woods can maintain his level of play at the Chevron in December. That was his first victory since a car crash outside his home in 2009 led to revelations of extramarital affairs that derailed his marriage and golf game.
“I am looking to get off to a fast start in Abu Dhabi and keep building from there,” Woods said. “Now that I am healthy, I feel I can keep building my game and confidence week on week, much like I did at the end of (last) year – from the Australian Open to the Presidents Cup to, finally, a win in California.”
Woods finished third at the Australian Open, and then delivered the clinching point for the American team in the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne.
Now he’s eager to show some of the young players who have grabbed the spotlight during his two-year slump that he’s still a force.
“There are so many great and talented players in the game right now – it is exciting for golf fans and I relish the challenge of going head-to-head with any number of the leading players on a Sunday afternoon,” Woods said. “Rory and Luke are both very talented golfers and I admire what they have achieved in the last year. I look forward to having many great battles on a Sunday afternoon with these great players in 2012.”