Darren defeat still hurts Tiger

From Brian Keogh in Tucson

Tiger Woods admits that losing to Darren Clarke in the final seven years ago hurt him more than his first round defeat to Peter O'Malley the following year.

The World No 1 is seeking his eighth straight PGA Tour win in Tucson and he only has eyes for victory despite the threat of Ryder Cup team mate JJ Henry in today's first round.

He said: "Losing to Darren was more frustrating than losing in the first round. You play five matches, you get to the final and you know how hard it is to get to the final.

"It's one of the tougher things to do in matchplay is go win five to the get to the final and not get the job done.

"If you lose in the first round, you're out. OK, I lost in the first round. But to get all the way to the final, you work that hard and you have an opportunity. You only have to be one guy and you don't get it done."

Woods is playing down "The Streak" however, pointing out how he lost to Shaun Micheel in the first round of the HSBC Championship at Wentworth before the Ryder Cup and a long run of defeats in events outside the US since then.

He said: "It's a Tour streak. I lost at the matchplay, lost at the Ryder Cup, lost in China, lost in Japan. I've done lots of losing too."

He also lost in Dubai and he could well lose to Henry, who only got his place in the field when South African Charl Schwartzel withdrew late last week.

First round rival Henry was a relevation at the Ryder Cup at the K Club.

And he was careful not to provoke the World No 1 after watching how he dismantled Stephen Ames 9 and 8 in the first round last year after the Trinidad and Tobago man foolishly suggested that anything could happen, "especially where he is hitting it at the moment."

Ames was referring to Woods' wayard driving and Henry was careful not to give Woods any extra motivation to thrash him today.

He said: "Of course I saw what happened there. But I am not going to add any fuel to the fire. Stephen went out three weeks later and won the Players Championship.

"I am not saying I want to get beat nine and eight but if I can win the Players Championship I'd for sure take that.

"Again, it's matchplay and you can shoot 65 and lose or 73 and win. Of course, if I play Tiger and shoot 73 I might as well pack my bags."

Big-hitter Henry won't be overawed by Woods though, especially after playing on the same Ryder Cup side at the K Club.

He said: "I don't know if there is any bigger stage than that. Of course, you're anxious. Sure, you'll be excited and you'll be nervous.

"But I feel like if I can handle the situation like I did at the K Club where I played pretty good golf for the most part, this will be, I don't want to say a walk in the park, but it will just be another day of golf."

Woods respects Henry's game and he predicted plenty of shocks in an $8 million event that features mouth-watering first round ties such as the all European clashes of Clarke C Garcia, Harrington v Westwood and Miguel Angel Jimenez v Luke Donald.

Woods added: Anybody can beat anybody on a given day. I'm as curious as anyone else to see what happens over the coming few days."