Woods aiming for fifth triumph with defence of Buick Open

GRAND BLANC (Michigan): Three days after bringing back his old driver, Tiger Woods will try to revive his winning ways by defending his title at the PGA Buick Open. 

Woods is trying to equal his five-win total from last year and repeat at an event for only the second time this year. 

A KISS: Michelle Fisher of Auburn Hills Tiger Woods on the cheek after the golfer agreed to pose with her for a photo during the Pro-Am event of th Buick Open on Wednesday.- APpic

In March, he became just the third player – and the first since Gene Sarazen in 1930 – to win the same PGA Tour event four consecutive times at the Bay Hill Invitational. 

“I feel as if I've had a very successful year so far, not a great year, but a successful year,” Woods said. “I've always said if you win, you've had a great year, no matter how high you finish in the rest of the events. 

“I've had four wins this year, so it's been a very successful year. Especially after coming off the knee surgery last year, to play this well through the entire year, it's been a big bonus.” 

Winless in the first three majors of the season, Woods spoke before the British Open about several PGA players who use illegal clubs. 

Ironically, Phil Mickelson suggested earlier this year that Woods' success is even more impressive because he uses “inferior” equipment. 

Nike, one of several companies endorsed by Woods, was upset with Mickelson's remarks. But its club could be part of the reason Woods' results have not been as astonishing in recent months as in past years. 

On Monday, however, Woods elected to use a Titleist drive and not his Nike driver in the made-for-television Battle of the Bridges, where he and South Africa's Ernie Els lost 3-and-1 to Mickelson and Spain's Sergio Garcia. 

Woods, typically among the most powerful drivers on tour, ranks 24th at just over 293 yards. Eight of the top 10 players in driving distance use Titleists. Woods is 128th in driving accuracy. 

“Well, I went back to it just because I wanted to get a little bit of confidence,” Woods said. “I haven't been driving the ball that well this year and I went back to a club that I started playing with after I caved in my Cobra in '97. So this is the same driver. 

“I've played with it all the way until I switched last year, so this has been a driver that I've had success in the past. I don't hit it as far as my Nike driver, that's for sure, but it's nice to go back to something that I've had success with. It's like going back to an old putter.” 

Which driver Woods will use in the tournament here is an unsettled question. 

“As far as sticking with this driver, I'm going to play it by ear,” he said. “It could be out of the bag tomorrow, could be in the bag for however many months. I don't know. It all depends on whether I get a driver that I feel comfortable that I can shape and hit shots with.” 

British Open champion Ben Curtis also returns to action here Thursday after taking a week off following his stunning victory. 

The 26-year-old rookie was ranked 396th in the world heading into his first major but was the only player under par at Royal St. George's. Curtis became the first golfer in 90 years to win in his first major start. 

Although Els is not entered this week, Fiji's Vijay Singh, the number three player in the world, is playing. Singh in 1997 became the second international player to win this event. – AFP  

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