LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With the first winless golf season of his professional career still fresh in his memory, Tiger Woods will launch his 2011 campaign in San Diego next week at one of his most successful venues.
Woods confirmed on Wednesday he will play his first tournament of the year in the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines where he has won the title a record six times.
“I’m really looking forward to competing,” the 35-year-old American said on his website (http://web.tigerwoods). “I’ve been working hard on my game and I’m excited about 2011.”
World number two Woods will be eager to make a fresh start next week after spending much of last year unsuccessfully trying to repair his marriage and also undergoing the fourth swing change of his career.
Having been engulfed by a sex scandal at the end of 2009, he finished the 2010 PGA Tour season without a single title for the first time since he turned professional in 1996.
He was also deposed as world number one by Britain’s Lee Westwood on Nov. 1, ending a reign of more than five years at the top.
However, since Woods joined forces with Canadian swing coach Sean Foley after the PGA Championship in August, his form has steadily improved.
He came close to winning his first title of 2010 in his final tournament, the Chevron World Challenge, which he hosts, where he lost to Britain’s Graeme McDowell in a playoff.
“The way I’m playing right now, I would like to continue playing,” Woods said after being beaten by the Northern Irishman at the first extra hole at Sherwood Country Club.
“I’m playing well and I’m also excited about my practice sessions coming up. I’m excited about this off-season. We, meaning Sean and I, know the direction we need to go.”
U.S. Open champion McDowell, who ended the most successful year of his own career at Sherwood with a fourth tournament victory, expected Woods to return to winning ways in 2011.
“I’m definitely a guy who says that golf needs Tiger Woods and we need him back winning tournaments,” McDowell said.
“I think he’ll be back winning golf tournaments in 2011. There’s something a bit special about his golf game and I fully expect that mystique to return as the golf clubs start doing the talking again.”
Woods could not wish for a better place to begin his season than at the picturesque Torrey Pines Golf Club, which hugs cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
He has triumphed in his last five starts at the venue, including the 2008 U.S. Open, where he defied doctors’ orders and jabbing knee pain to beat fellow American Rocco Mediate in a 19-hole playoff.
In 11 appearances at the Farmers Insurance Open, he has recorded 11 top-10s, including victories in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. He did not compete at the venue in 2009 and last year.