WORLD No1 Tiger Woods begins his quest to win a first Major in five years at the US Open today and insists he remains as determined as ever to succeed.
The 37-year-old has endured a torrid time with form, injury and personal problems since winning the US Open at Torrey Pines in 2008.
But with four wins behind him on the PGA Tour already this year Woods appears to have rediscovered his best form and hopes to gain an early advantage on playing partners Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott at Merion Golf Club.
“It’s been nice to be a part of the mix for 17 years now out here and be a part of a lot of great duels and a lot of great battles,” he said. “And that to me is why I prepare, why I lift all those weights and put myself through all that is to be in those type of positions.
“I just enter events to win and that’s it, whether there’s a lot of people following or there’s nobody out there. That’s why I played as a junior, all the way through to now is just to try to kick everyone’s butt.
“That to me is the rush. That’s the fun. That’s the thrill.”
Elsewhere in the field, Luke Donald is aiming to become the first Englishman to win a Major since Nick Faldo triumphed at the Masters 17 years ago.
Donald, 35, has slipped from first to sixth in the world rankings in the last 12 months, but still applies as much scrutiny to his game as ever, even if the wider interest has subsided.
“There’s always more attention, more requests of your time when you are world No1 and that takes management and that’s tough,” he said.
“But within myself the pressures are just the same. I want to win a Major championship just as badly this year as when I was No1.
“It’s about managing those expectations, managing those feelings and knowing what you have is good enough.”
Key tee times
12:22pm: Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker
12:55pm: Jason Dufner, Ian Poulter, Boo Weekley
5:52pm: Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood
6:03pm: Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell
6:14pm: Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Tiger Woods