Tiger Woods will be looking to reproduce the kind of performance that helped end his longest drought since turning professional when he begins his defense of the Dunlop Phoenix title on Thursday.

Woods’ eight-shot victory at last year’s tournament, his first in Japan, halted a run of 20 straight stroke-play events without a win and put him back on track to return to the top of the world.

The 29-year-old world No. 1 reclaimed top spot in the money rankings by beating Phil Mickelson at the Ford Championship at Doral in March and has captured six titles this year, including two majors — the Masters and the British Open.

After second-place finishes in his last two events at the Tour Championship and last week’s HSBC Champions in Shanghai, Woods was confident he could win at Phoenix Country Club in the southern Japanese resort of Miyazaki.

“It would be nice. I’m starting to play a little bit better. Some of the things I’ve been working on this fall are starting to come together, which is exciting,” Woods told reporters Wednesday.

“Last week (in Shanghai) I hit the ball very well but just didn’t quite make enough putts. Hopefully with the greens being a little bit faster and smoother I can hit the ball the same as last week and make a few putts,” added the 10-time major winner.

This year’s event has a stronger field with New Zealander Michael Campbell, who shattered Woods’ hopes of an annual grand slam with a two-stroke victory at the U.S. Open, European No. 1 Colin Montgomery and American Jim Furyk also appearing at the 200 million yen tournament.

“Certainly we have got more major championship winners here and the field’s gotten stronger and I think this is going to be a wonderful tournament,” said Woods.

“It’s a great tournament each and every year. When you look at the past champions list it’s a pretty impressive list. This year certainly with the field being this deep you would expect it to be tough defending the tournament.”

The Dunlop Phoenix is the richest tournament in Japan and the winner will take home 40 million yen on Sunday.

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