The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tiger Woods to risk using new set of irons

Thomastown (Ireland): Tiger Woods will risk using a new set of irons as he bids to win his sixth World Golf Championship (WGC) title at this week’s WGC-American Express Championship.

The world No. 1, who clinched the WGC-NEC Invitational three years in a row from 1999 to 2001, has decided to switch to a new set of forged-blade irons at par-72 Mount Juliet in the third of the year’s four WGC tournaments.

“Obviously, there’s always an element of risk any time you change clubs, whether it’s any club in the bag,” Woods said on Wednesday. “But I think, if you try them out and test them out enough, then hopefully they’ll perform.”

The 26-year-old American, said his new irons were better balanced than the old set.

“I think, overall, consistency in the heads has been the most significant factor I have found after practising with them,” he said.

“The balance is consistent throughout the set. I found that was the biggest difference between my previous set and this set.”

Woods, whose other WGC triumphs came at the 1999 American Express Championship in Valderrama in Spain and at the 2000 World Cup of Golf team event in Argentina where he partnered David Duval, is relishing another opportunity to battle the best players in the game in Ireland this week.

He will be facing an elite field of just 64 other players, including 49 of the world’s top 50 missing only Japan’s Toshimitsu Izawa, who declined to travel to Ireland.

Seven of the 12-man European Ryder Cup team are competing while only Hal Sutton and Stewart Cink of the US team are not in the field.

“Any time you get the best players in the world, obviously you’re going to enjoy the atmosphere and I’ve always enjoyed it,” said Woods.

“We don’t get the chance to play against the best players I think enough and these World Golf Championships, as well as the majors, are the only tournaments where you’re pretty much guaranteed to have the best field.

“It’s not quite like a major championship for us but having the field as it is really gets the juices flowing.”

Woods, who will be competing in his first professional tournament in Ireland this week, is also looking forward to the challenge of the 7,246-yard Mount Juliet layout, which was designed by golfing great Jack Nicklaus.

“It’s going to be an interesting test I think this week because the greens are so pure,” he said. “I think the guys are going to shoot some really low numbers here.

“I don’t think it’s as difficult as a lot of courses he (Nicklaus) designs. The bunkers aren’t quite as severe and deep as we’re accustomed to seeing on most Nicklaus courses.

“I think this is going to be a fun week. Anything can happen in these events when you get the best players in the world assembled.”

The American Express Championship, which carries a total prize fund of $5.5 million, is the third WGC event of the year after February’s WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and last month’s WGC-NEC Invitational.

WGC events are sanctioned and organised by the International Federation of PGA Tours, which includes the Asian PGA Tour, the European Tour, the Japan Golf Tour, U.S.

PGA Tour, PGA Tour of Australasia and the Southern Africa Tour.

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