DONGGUAN, China – Tiger Woods believes his reworked swing has restored some of the fun and excitement to his game, and is a big reason why he played so well at the Masters.
The former top-ranked golfer, who finished in a tie for fourth place Sunday at Augusta National, was already back at work Tuesday, promoting the sport and his sponsors on a trip to China.
"I hit the ball really well on the weekend and made some shots — those are shots I know I can hit. That was fun and exciting," Woods said at the Mission Hills Dongguan clubhouse near the southern Chinese city Shenzhen. "It's really starting to feel pretty good. This week was a pretty good week."
The 14-time major champion hasn't won a title since returning from a five-month break after revelations of marital infidelity last year. But at the Masters, he made a strong run with four birdies and an eagle on the front nine of the final round before faltering on the back.
But while kicking off an Asian promotional tour, Woods credited swing coach Sean Foley, who started working with him at last year's PGA Championship.
"I played well and unfortunately just came up a little short on the back nine. But it was a fun front nine on Sunday. That was fun. Had a blast," Woods said. "It was fun being in the mix. Unfortunately didn't get it done."
Woods hasn't won a tournament since his return last year.
"When I was 25, I was on tour and having a pretty good run out there at the time, won a few tournaments right about that age," Woods said. "And at 35, I haven't won a thing."
But despite being happy with the overhaul of his driving, Woods told fans during an afternoon clinic that his putting was lacking, adding that his next goal is to fine-tune his short game.
Woods' off-the-course troubles don't appear to have diminished his popularity in China. Hundreds of fans lined the fairway at the 18th hole of the course as Woods wrapped up his four-hole demonstration, cheering loudly when he made a good shot. Woods wore a wireless microphone so spectators could listen in as he plotted his strategy for each shot.
He offered words of encouragement to five Chinese juniors, who played the final hole with him. Woods was particularly impressed with a 13-year-old junior who teed off after he did. Asked how far he drove when he was 13, Woods said, "not that far."
"Their futures are very bright," Woods said. "It will be fun to watch their careers develop over the years."
Earlier Tuesday, Woods said he was impressed with the growth of golf in China, where the sport is booming, and has predicted Chinese golfers will break into the top 50 in the world.
"It's been really neat as a player who has come here for a number of years to see the development of the fans and their knowledge of the game and their enthusiasm for the sport," said Woods, who has twice finished runner-up at the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai. "These fans are certainly much more knowledgeable now."