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Tiger: Vonn relationship announcement was to thwart 'stalkerazzi'

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 6:40pm

Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn released the news about their relationship to limit paparazzi intrusion on their romance, the world's No. 2 golfer said Wednesday.

The 14-time major champion is preparing for the Arnold Palmer Invitational tournament in Florida, where a win would see him reclaim the number one ranking for the first time in over two years.

Woods and Vonn -- a four time Alpine World Cup skiing champion -- released statements and a series of pictures confirming their relationship on Monday.

And the 37-year-old told a press conference at the Bay Hill course they had put out the snaps to prevent any invasion into their lives from photographers that he referred to as the "stalkerazzi."

"It's very simple, we're very happy where we are at but also we wanted to limit the stalkerazzi and all those sleazy websites out there following us," he told reporters.

"I've had situations where it's been very dangerous for my kids, the extent that they'll go to. We basically devalued the first photos.

"Unfortunately that's just the way it is in our society right now and we felt it was the best thing to do and we're very happy about it."

The pair's relationship has been big news since Monday's confirmation but Woods is now focused on trying to wrest golf's world No. 1 crown back from friend, rival and Nike stablemate Rory McIlroy.

It would mark a significant transformation for Woods, whose stuttering form in recent years saw his ranking slump past the 50 mark at one point.

But after victory at the Cadillac Championship in Doral last week -- his 17th World Golf Championship title -- Woods can now reach golf's pinnacle if he can secure his 77th PGA Tour triumph.

"I feel like I'm headed in the right direction," he said. "I'm very pleased where I've come from. Like I said, 50‑plus to where I'm at is no small task.

"I'd like to get to 19-plus (majors) myself. Getting back to number one and all that it entails, it's not easy to get there in the first place. I don't think people realize how hard it is to get to number one in the world.

"It's been a long process. I was hurt for a long time, I had to make swing changes that were drastically different than what I was doing before. It's taken some time."

Woods is defending champion at Bay Hill, beating 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme Dowell by five shots last year to secure his first tournament win since 2009.

He has won four more times in the last 12 months and he puts a large slice of his resurgence down to the fact that he has remained injury free during that period.

"I just needed to get healthy," he added. "Once I got healthy and I was able to practice properly, I felt like then I could implement the swing changes that (coach) Sean (Foley) wanted me to put in there.

"But I needed to get healthy enough where I could practice. It happened to be a perfect storm where I was making a swing change, and I was hurt, and I couldn't devote any time to it.

"To gradually work my way back, that's something I'm proud of."

Woods' game attracted praise from Palmer himself, who won seven major titles during a glittering career that has seen him regarded as one of the finest to play the game.

"I think right now looking at him and watching him play, he looks probably as strong and as good from a golf perspective as I've ever seen him," the 83-year-old told reporters.

"I think his swing and his posture and his attitude is far better than it's been in some time, and it takes me back to when I first played with him at Augusta when he was a rookie.

"I give him a chance. I suppose that every year it's a little more fleeting, however, and he'll have to really work hard to keep himself up and keep his mental attitude if he's going to do it."

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