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Tiger bids to break 2010 win duck Down Under

Woods is in relaxed mood ahead of his Australian Masters title defense in Melbourne.
Woods is in relaxed mood ahead of his Australian Masters title defense in Melbourne.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tiger Woods is defending champion at the Australian Masters in Melbourne
  • Woods is still searching for his first win of a difficult 2010
  • Geoff Ogilvy, Robert Allenby, Camilo Villegas and Sergio Garcia in the field

(CNN) -- Tiger Woods defends his Australian Masters in Melbourne as he bids to end a tumultuous year with a victory.

Woods scored his last tournament victory at the event in 2009 before making headlines for the wrong reasons to leave his career in the balance.

Since returning to golf after a self-imposed exile, Woods has struggled to repeat former glories and lost his world number one status to England's Lee Westwood after a five-year reign at the top.

But the 14-time major winner believes he can taste success Down Under as the action begins at Melbourne's Victoria Course on Thursday.

Woods is partnered by Australians Robert Allenby and Brett Rumford while Geoff Ogilvy, Colombian Camilo Villegas and Spain's Sergio Garcia add quality to the field.

I felt I needed to get better. I felt the way I was playing most of this year was not very good
--Tiger Woods
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Woods, who finished tied for sixth at the WGC-HSBC Champions last week as he tried to wrest his top ranking back from Westwood, is confident he is moving in the right direction.

"Absolutely. It's a work in progress. Sometimes it takes longer than others," Woods told a pre-tournament press conference Wednesday.

"Once I start feeling comfortable with what I'm doing -- I know I can still play this game -- it's just a matter of being consistent enough and on a daily basis."

Woods is working with golfing instructor Sean Foley after dispensing with his longtime swing guru Hank Haney.

"I felt I needed to get better. I felt the way I was playing most of this year was not very good," he said.

"The best finish was fourth place and that's not as well as I have played in the past and I needed to make a change.

"It also makes it a lot less stressful on my knee, which has taken a pounding over the years and I think four operations is enough."

Woods said he would be relying on his longtime caddy Steve Williams for extra tips as he has carried Greg Norman's bag in a previous tournament on the par-71 6,297m Victoria layout.

If he fails to repeat his 2009 win, Woods will have just one more chance for a win this year at the Chevron World Challenge next month.