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Wednesday, 09 February 2011
Tiger Woods  (Getty Images)
Tiger Woods (Getty Images)
Tiger Woods maintains that winning remains all-important as he looks to end 14 months without a victory at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

The American last lifted a trophy at the JBWere Masters in Australia back in December 2009, and although he has spent time away form the course since then, Woods is eager to get back in the winner’s circle after the longest title drought of his career.

“It's still the same - it's to win a golf tournament,” said the 35 year old when asked about his aim this week.

“It's progressing. I'm putting pieces together and working on the same things. Sean [Foley, his coach] and I, we are sticking with the game plan and just trying to get better each and every week.”

The 14-time Major champion, a winner here in 2006 and 2008, has also been deposed as World Number One recently, with Lee Westwood taking over at the top and German Martin Kaymer pushing Woods down to third.

But he has a chance of revenge at Emirates Golf Club as the three best players in the  world will play together for the opening two rounds.

“I think it's fun,” he added. “The last time I played in a pairing like this was the US Open in 2008, the top three guys, and we had a lot of fun. It was fun competing and playing in a group. I think tomorrow will be the same.

“I've just always had a great time with Lee. We have been on Tour for about the same amount of time. We seem to have been paired together early in both of our careers, and obviously a lot lately.”

On the battle to top the Official World Golf Ranking he continued: “Winning takes care of all that. That's how I got to Number One in the world, that's how I was able to sustain it, win golf tournaments. That's what Lee did to get to Number One, and you have to play well. You've got to be consistent, but you also have to win.”

One player hoping to work his way into the world’s top three sooner rather than later is Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who won here in 2009.

Remarkably that remains the World Number Seven’s only European Tour title to date, but the 21 year old is keen to improve on that record in 2011.

“Obviously I want to try and repeat the performance of 2009 and try and win,” he said.

“I've always said I'm disappointed that I haven't won more because it feels as if I should have. But I've been working hard during the off season and the last few weeks to try and put that right by winning a few more tournaments.

“I'm working a little bit on strategy, working a bit on the swing and basically just trying to develop into a more mature golfer. And when I do that, I'll hopefully give myself plenty of chances to win and keep knocking on the door and eventually it will open.

“I feel as if I'm a more complete player than I was in 2009. I definitely swing it better. I'm able to shape it both ways and physically I've gotten stronger and I feel like I'm definitely headed in the right direction.”

And McIlroy admits the presence of the world’s top three in a regular European Tour event for the first time since 1994 has added to an already prestigious event.

“I'm actually quite happy that I'm on the other side of the draw so I can watch a bit of it on TV - that will be quite good,” added McIlroy.

“It's fantastic for the tournament, and hopefully I can come in under the radar and post a couple of good rounds early on and get myself in a good position going into the weekend.

“I think it feels different because you've got the best three players in the world here this week. Plenty of points up for grabs and plenty to play for.”

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1QUIROS, AlvaroESP18-11
T2KINGSTON, JamesRSA18-10
T2HANSEN, AndersDEN18-10
T4STRANGE, ScottAUS18-9
T4GONNET, Jean-BaptisteFRA18-9
T4VELASCO, AlvaroESP18-9
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