SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Tiger Woods believes he has become a different person after suffering a year to forgot both on and off the course, but one thing the American insists will never change is his unerring desire to win.
Woods will tee off at the HSBC Champions on Thursday in the unfamiliar position of world number two after his 281-week reign was ended by Briton Lee Westwood last weekend and regardless of his ranking, the 34-year-old has only one thing on his mind.
“I come to every event with the same intention and that’s winning a golf tournament, whether I’m ranked number one or not. That has not changed and it never will,” Woods told reporters on Wednesday.
The world’s top four -- Westwood, Woods, German Martin Kaymer and American Phil Mickelson -- are all playing in Shanghai this week and a victory for any one of them would see them top the rankings when they are released on Monday.
Woods, however, is less concerned about trying to ensure a quick return to the top of the rankings and is more focused on getting back into the habit of capturing tournaments.
“I haven’t won an event in about a year,” Woods added.
“I’ve gone through periods like this before in the past. It’s a matter of going out there and competing and winning golf tournaments, and winning enough tournaments. It (the ranking) will take care of itself.”
Woods was as bullish as ever when talking up his chances this week but when questioned about the events of the last 12 months that has led to the breakdown of his marriage, the loss of sponsorship deals and poor form, he was far more philosophical.
“I look at myself as a much better person than what I was,” he said.
“All that I have gone through has certainly made me a better person and has enabled me and forced me to take a look at myself and have become a much better person because of it.”
The American has struggled with his game since the sordid revelations of serial philandering emerged late last year and ended the 2010 PGA Tour campaign without a victory for the first time since joining the circuit in late 1996.
“Unfortunately, I had to go through it to get to this point. But I’m looking forward to and working each and every day at trying to become the best parent I possibly can,” Woods said.
“Obviously the most important thing is to become a better parent. That’s my number one thing. I have two beautiful kids, and just trying to be the best parent I possibly can each and every day,” he added.
“I’m much more balanced and certainly a better (person). I had an introspective look at myself and where I was and where I wanted to go and how I was raised.
“I think everyone at some point in their lives has tried to do that. It’s not an easy process but it’s a process that once you come out the other side, you feel so much better.”
Woods enjoyed a strong showing at last month’s Ryder Cup and believes his revival of form was more down to the hard work he was putting in to improve his game than his change of outlook.
“I’m trying to get better at golf every day, and that’s been ever since I first started playing the game, for as long as I can remember and I started playing since I was 11 months, so it’s been a while,” he joked.
“It’s a hell of a field this week and it’s going to be a lot of fun going out there competing and trying to win.”
Editing by John O’Brien
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