Woods Back to Work in China

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European TourSHANGHAI, China -- Tiger Woods always seems to have some kind of streak on the line.
 
He has gone 39 days without hitting a competitive golf shot, the last one Oct. 1 when he tapped in for birdie to win a World Golf Championship by eight shots outside London. The last time he played a 72-hole event without hoisting the trophy was July 9, when he finished two shots behind Trevor Immelman at the Western Open.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods practices during Wednesday's pro-am in China.
Woods resumes his disjointed season Thursday in the HSBC Champions, starting a two-week stay in Asia and the final stretch of a season filled with grief over losing his father, celebration of winning two majors and criticism for skipping the Tour Championship last week in Atlanta for the first time.
 
'As far as not playing the TOUR Championship, it's been a long year,' Woods said. 'I had some things happen earlier in the year and took some time off during that, and then played seven out of nine weeks with a two-day stint in Ireland for practice rounds with our Ryder Cup team. And I was basically just tired. I needed some time off to get away from the game a little bit.'
 
Woods previously had contracts to play the HSBC Champions at the Sheshan Internnational Golf Club, where last year he finished second to David Howell, and the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, where he is defending champion.
 
Still left on his schedule is the two-day Grand Slam of Golf for major champions Nov. 21-22 in Hawaii, followed by his Target World Challenge on Dec. 14-17 in California.
 
The field includes Jim Furyk, Howell, Paul Casey and Padraig Harrington, who two weeks ago captured the Order of Merit on the European Tour for the first time, edging Casey.
 
While it's the beginning of the end for Woods in 2006, the HSBC Champions is the start of the 2007 season on the European Tour. The $5 million event is co-sanctioned by the European, Asian, South African and Australasian tours, along with the China Golf Association.
 
Woods is not sure how he will respond to a five-week break. When he took nine weeks off near the May 3 death of his father, he returned at the U.S. Open and missed the cut for the first time in a major. He doesn't expect that to happen at Sheshan International.
 
Woods was told Roger Federer would be playing in Shanghai for a tournament that starts Sunday. He was asked if he planned to watch him play, as he did at the U.S. Open in New York two months ago.
 
'Busy on Sunday,' Woods said.
 
Woods has won six consecutive times on the PGA TOUR dating to a runner-up finish at the Western Open, although he has said his streak ended in September when he lost in the first round of the HSBC World Match Play Championship at Wentworth.
 
Woods will play the first two rounds with Casey, the World Match Play Champion, and Jeev Singh, who became the first Indian-born player to win the season-ending Volvo Masters on the European Tour.
 
Ordinarily, Woods and Singh in the same group creates a buzz. Only this time it's Jeev -- not Vijay, the only player besides Woods to be No. 1 in the world the last six years.
 
'It's going to be the first time for me that I'm going to play with him and hopefully I can learn something and see how he manages the golf course,' Jeev Singh said. 'I think it's a reward that I'm playing with Tiger with the performances that I've had this year. It's going to be an experience for me.'
 
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