(Reuters) - World number one Tiger Woods will launch his 2014 campaign at one of his favorite venues, having committed on Monday to play in this month’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, tournament organizers said.
Woods won the event there for a record seventh time last year, ending a week of mainly dominant golf by clinching his 75th PGA Tour title by four shots.
It was the third different PGA Tour event where he has achieved the feat, having previously piled up seven wins apiece at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Woods had been widely expected to officially commit to his title defense at the January 23-26 Farmers Insurance Open after being asked by reporters last month whether he expected to start the new season with more or less confidence than before.
“Well, I’ve done well at Torrey Pines,” he replied, after losing a playoff to fellow American Zach Johnson for the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge which he hosts. “I’ve done pretty good. That’s my first tournament back.”
Pressed on whether he ever experienced doubts heading into a fresh campaign, Woods replied: ”Of course. I mean I’ve come off of long breaks.
“I’ve come off of surgeries, you know, whatever it may be. I’ve had my share of off-seasons, and I can tell you one thing, I‘m looking forward to this one.”
Woods comes off a highly successful 2013 campaign, having won a season-high five times on the PGA Tour and earning the circuit Player of the Year accolade, as voted upon by his peers.
The only blemish on an otherwise impressive resume was his failure to add another major title to his career tally of 14, which has stalled since his remarkable playoff victory for the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
”Pretty damn good year,“ Woods said of his 2013 season. ”Five wins, and you know, on some pretty good venues, so very pleased with the year. I‘m really excited about the major championships (in 2014).
”I’ve won at three of the four venues - Augusta National, Valhalla Golf Club (PGA Championship) and Royal Liverpool (British Open) - and on Pinehurst No. 2 (U.S. Open), I‘m trending the right way, having finished third and second.
“But I still need to practice, work, grind and prepare, and have my game come together those four times a year. And I hope that will happen.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Pasadena, California; Editing by Frank Pingue