Golf

Published: Friday February 7, 2014 MYT 8:37:02 AM
Updated: Friday February 7, 2014 MYT 8:37:22 AM

Woods opts for Florida-only Masters build-up

(Reuters) - Tiger Woods says he will play three events in Florida as he gears up for the April 10-13 Masters, the year's opening major, and will skip the upcoming WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona as had been expected.

The American world number one has competed in only two tournaments this year, the PGA Tour's Farmers Insurance Open and the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic, and will next be in action at the February 27-March 2 Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

After that, he will defend his titles at the March 6-9 WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami and the March 20-23 Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando.

"The Honda Classic is close to my home, and I want to support it whenever I can," 14-times major winner Woods said on his official website on Thursday.

"I'm also excited about spending time with Arnold and defending my title at his tournament and the WGC-Cadillac."

Though Woods is a three-time winner of the February 19-23 Accenture Match Play Championship, the first of the year's four World Golf Championships events, he confirmed that had not been on his schedule for this season.

"I had planned to take that week off and travel with (girlfriend) Lindsey (Vonn) to Sochi, but unfortunately that won't happen," Woods said. "Instead, I'll stay home and prepare for the Florida tournaments."

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Vonn, the Olympic downhill champion and a four-times overall World Cup winner who is one of the biggest attractions in winter sport, pulled out of the Sochi Games last month due to a knee injury.

Woods' absence from the Match Play Championship will leave that event without three of the world's top four players with second-ranked Adam Scott and fourth-ranked Phil Mickelson also opting not to play.

Woods has made a stuttering start to his 2014 campaign, missing the third-round cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and then struggling with his putting on the way to a tie for 41st at the Dubai Desert Classic.

"My iron game wasn't as sharp as I'd like, and I had seven lip-outs today," the American told reporters after closing with a one-under-par 71 in Dubai where he had vied for top billing with Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy.

"I'm definitely going to work on my putting. My light putting needs to be better than it has been... I'm hitting my lines, I just don't have the speed right."

Woods, who won a season-high five times on the PGA Tour last year but has not clinched a major title since the 2008 U.S. Open, also wants to improve his short game around the greens.

"I still need to do a bit of work chipping out of this rye grass, because I've been chipping out (of) Bermuda (grass) and it's a little different technique," he added.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry)

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