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Tiger Woods Optimistic Heading into Dubai Desert Classic

Grass flies as Tiger Woods tees off, December 5, 2010.
Grass flies as Tiger Woods tees off, December 5, 2010.

After going more than a year without winning a golf tournament, American Tiger Woods says he is feeling good about his game as he prepares for this week's Dubai Desert Classic in the United Arab Emirates. Woods says he is looking forward to playing with top-ranked Lee Westwood of Britain and German number-two Martin Kaymer in Thursday's opening round.

Tiger Woods appears confident, despite beginning the 2011 season with his worst-ever start - a 44th-place tie at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, California two weeks ago. Woods has been working on overhauling his swing with coach Sean Foley, and even though it was not obvious in his season opener, Woods says his game is coming together.

"It's progressing. I'm just putting the pieces together. I'm working on the same things. Sean and I, we are sticking with the game plan, just trying to get better each and every week. And it's nice to have some things that showed up. So we were able to identify that and work on it, and I feel a lot more comfortable coming this week," he said.

The 35 year-old Woods has won 82 golf titles around the world during his career, including 14 majors. And even though he admits to being frustrated while struggling with his game, Woods says his goal never changes when he tees it up.

"It's still the same - it's to win a golf tournament. I mean, winning takes care of all that. That's how I got to number one in the world and and that's how I was able to sustain it -- is to win golf tournaments. That's what Lee [Westwood] did to get to number one. And you have to play well. You've got to be consistent, but you also have to win. So the goal is still the same - just to go out there and win," he said.

Tiger Woods has dropped to number three, but he says it will be fun to play against the top two players in the world rankings. This is the first time in 17 years that the world's top three golfers will play in a regular European Tour event.

Depending on the results of the tournament, the rankings could change. If Martin Kaymer wins in Dubai, Lee Westwood would lose the top spot if he finishes lower than second.

Kaymer could also move to number one if he finishes second and Westwood places below the top 10. But if Kaymer finishes the tournament tied for second, he would take over the top spot if Westwood finishes out of the top 36.