x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Tiger Woods arrives in Abu Dhabi in his best physical shape in a decade

The American is confident about his condition as he prepares to kick-off his golfing year with a first appearance at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Tiger Woods moves to the beat with members of a traditional Emirati Ayala dance troupe at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Tiger Woods moves to the beat with members of a traditional Emirati Ayala dance troupe at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Having played six times in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Tiger Woods has alighted for a debut in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championshp, christening his 2012 season with fresh confidence and hope.

"It's been quite a few years since I've been physically fit," he said Tuesday at a press conference at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, pronouncing himself ready to "give it a full season, which I haven't done in a while."

Asked for the last January he felt this fit, he said, "I don't know, probably eight, 10, 12 years ago."

He said he had followed a bit of the cricket even as a "baseball guy," knowing just enough to call it a "batsman's paradise here."

Woods chose Abu Dhabi over Dubai – and over his American haven of Torrey Pines near San Diego – for three reasons, he said. For one, "The guys who have played here have said these wonderful things." For another, he repeatedly brought up HSBC's support of his foundation through the years.

"And," he said, "I've tried to make it a requisite" to play fresh events. "This is a new event for me. This is exciting for me. This is an incredible field that they've assembled here."

The field includes the top four players in the world, 11 of the top 25 and Woods himself at No. 25, off a win in December at a tournament he hosts in California which, while unofficial tour-wise, marked his first tournament victory in two years.

Asked if appearance fees, unavailable on the US tour, factor into such decisions, he replied, "I'd have to say yes. It certainly does."

Woods could receive as much as US$3million (Dh11,018m) for playing in the tournament.

cculpepper@thenational.ae