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Tiger Woods shifts focus to Augusta

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First off, the important stuff: steak, chicken fajitas, sushi and sashimi. There may also be milkshakes for desert. That’s what will be on the menu when Tiger Woods hosts the Champions Dinner at this year’s Masters Tournament. The main course options are the same as what he served in 2006. The milkshakes go back to his first menu, in 1998.

“One of the most great memories was to see Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes that night in ‘98,” said Woods in a Masters media teleconference on Tuesday.He gets to pick the dinner menu because of his remarkable win last April, when he notched his fifth Green Jacket in a come-from-behind victory over the likes of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari and Tony Finau.

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It came 11 years after his last major and also after lots of struggles on the course, with his health and following a number of high-profile personal problems. More than one prognosticator bet he’d never win a 15th major title.Woods said that the reactions from friends and fans to his title were overwhelming.

“Seeing the amount of reactions and people who were riveted by the Masters,” he stated. “The amount of emotion people were showing. That’s what blew my mind. I didn’t think that many people would be moved that way.”

It was emotional for him as well, especially because it played out in front of his two children, Samantha and Charlie. It was the first time they saw their father capture a major title. A year before, they watched him miss a chance to win the Open Championship when he stumbled down the stretch at Carnoustie, yielding the Claret Jug to Molinari.

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This time he walked off the 18th at Augusta National into an embrace with his kids. The memories continued even after they left the course. “Just watching them fight over the green jacket on the airplane was pretty funny,” said Woods. ‘I want to wear it; no, I want to wear it,’ and that’s something I certainly will never forget.”

After a busy time over the last few months that saw him win at the Zozo Championship in Japan for his 82nd PGA Tour title and take a playing captain role with the U.S. team’s win at the Presidents Cup, Woods has shifted his attention to defending his Masters title, which is just six weeks away.“Once we get to Florida,” he said of the PGA Tour’s schedule, “it feels like the Masters, right around the corner.”

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This week’s event is the Honda Classic, the first stop on the Florida swing. Woods is not entered and has until Friday to commit to next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Golf Club, a course on which he’s won eight times. Other possible starts for the 44-year-old are the Players and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Woods last played at the Genesis Invitational and dealt with some back stiffness, finishing last among those who made the cut. He subsequently skipped the WGC-Mexico event.

“The plan is to prepare the same way,” he said of his pre-Masters agenda. “It worked last year. I’ve got a blueprint for what I need to do. Hopefully I can have the same feelings.”A win this year would tie him with Jack Nicklaus for most Masters titles and come 23 years after his first title.
• Culled from www.tsn.ca.

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