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Woods has sights on ninth title at ‘special’ Firestone

Los Angeles: Tiger Woods returns to the scene of his most recent victory when he tackles the WGC Bridgestone in Akron, Ohio, just making the elite field a testament to the superstar’s resilience. “This event has been very special to me over the years. I’m excited to be back,” said 14-time major champion Woods, who has climbed from 656th in the world to start the year to 50th — barely making the field for a tournament he has won an astonishing eight times.

That includes his victory in 2013 — his most recent win anywhere.

Since then, Woods has been hampered by the back trouble that led to spinal fusion surgery in April of last year.

“I went from just hoping to be able to play the tour to now that I feel that I can play the tour,” he said. “I certainly can win again.”

And where better to prove that than Firestone?

“It has always been one of my favourite golf courses on the entire tour,” Woods said. “It’s a very simple, straightforward golf course, which we don’t see very often anymore. It’s one of the reasons why I tried so hard to get in this event, is because it does mean something special to me.”

A ninth victory at Firestone would also put Woods closer to his goal of playing in the Ryder Cup — as well as serving as an assistant to US captain Jim Furyk.

“You know he’s going to play well this week,” American Justin Thomas said of Woods.

“This place is like Augusta for him. He could probably take two, three weeks off and he’s going to get it around here fine, because he knows how to. He’s won here as many times as I’ve won everywhere in my career.

“I am surprised he hasn’t mentioned that yet — which is nice,” quipped Thomas, who will play alongside five-time major winner Phil Mickelson in the first two rounds, when Woods tees it up with Australian Jason Day. — AFP

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