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Wednesday, 20 February 2019
Tiger Woods  (Getty Images)
Tiger Woods (Getty Images)

Tiger Woods has done most things in his extraordinary golf career but he will be breaking new ground when he tees it up at this week's WGC-Mexico Championship.

Woods' appearance at Chapultepec Golf Club will be the first time he has played an event in Mexico, with his back problems and resulting place in the Official World Golf Ranking preventing him from playing the past two seasons.

The 14-time Major Championship winner has triumphed at this event seven times in its previous guises and is looking forward to putting on a show and competing for title number eight in front of a new audience.

"This is very special," he said. "I was scheduled to play here a couple of times. Unfortunately, my back wasn't very good and I had to go in to have a couple of procedures done.

"So this is exciting for me to be here in Mexico City to play it for the first time. This is going to be an exciting week. The people are into it, the golf course is going to be a challenge trying to figure out what we're going to do and how far the ball goes here. It's going to be an exciting week for all of us.

This is exciting for me to be here in Mexico City to play it for the first time. This is going to be an exciting week - Tiger Woods

"Hopefully I can play well, the people will come out and support the event and I'm sure there will be some amazing energy out there."

Woods has won 18 World Golf Championships events, with six of his seven victories at this one coming over different layouts, and the American insists it is the occasion more than the course that brings out the best in him.

"I take a lot of pride in playing well in the biggest events," he said. "I think my record has been pretty good in those events.

"So just because this event has been in different places, it still gets the best players in the world and I've always enjoyed competing against them and trying to beat them and win an event. I think I've had some success in World Golf Championships no matter where they're played."

Bryson DeChambeau is also making his first appearance at this event after a meteoric rise in the past two seasons.

Last month's stunning seven shot win at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic was his sixth worldwide since July 2017, and the 25-year-old now truly believes he is used to being at golf's top table and all the extra attention that brings.

"I can definitely deal with it now," he said. "When I came out here, I wasn't comfortable with it. I didn't know what to necessarily do, especially when my golf game wasn't at the level that I thought it should be at.

"Now that I'm at the place I am in the World Rankings, I've won the tournaments I've won, I realise it's a part of the job.

"And also my game is in a state where I feel comfortable with it, where I'm not scared to go on the golf course and go 'I don't really know where it's going to go'. I'm comfortable with where it's going to go."

Defending champion Phil Mickelson is a popular figure wherever he goes in the golf world and after his victory 12 months ago, he is certain the fans will be behind him again this week.

"Here in Mexico City it's been amazing, the reception, and it started really last year when I ended up winning," he said.

"Coming down the stretch and feeling the support was a special feeling, especially when I had not won in a number of years. This tournament was a big event for me to kind of reignite my career."

That win was Mickelson's first since The 2013 Open Championship and the 48-year-old admits the resurgence of long-time rival Woods has played a role in his own return to form.

"A big reason for my success is having him back and having him back playing well," he said. "It motivates me and gets the best out of me too."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1JOHNSON, DustinUSA18-21
2MCILROY, RoryNIR18-16
T3CASEY, PaulENG18-11
T3APHIBARNRAT, KiradechTHA18-11
T3POULTER, IanENG18-11
T6CANTLAY, PatrickUSA18-10

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