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Woods ready to raise bar for McIlroy

ESPN staff
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Tiger Woods is eyeing the world No. 1 spot © Getty Images
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Tiger Woods has warned Rory McIlroy he intends to become better than any standard reached previously in his career, as he targets a return to the world No. 1 spot.

Woods can usurp McIlroy as the world's top player by winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational this week. He enters as the defending champion.

The American is flying high on confidence after his win at the WGC-Cadillac Championship - the 77th PGA Tour title of his career, but Woods insists he can reach a level that is better than when he won 14 majors prior to a major career dip a couple of years ago.

"I don't want to become as good as I once was, I want to become better," Woods said. "We'll see.

"It's been a long process. I was hurt for a long time and at the same time had to make swing changes that were drastically different. I fell to 50-plus for a while and to gradually work my back is something I am very proud of.

"We are still getting better, things are becoming more efficient. The two wins this year I have built some nice leads and things are starting to come around."

McIlroy will not be present to deny Woods this week, although FedEx Cup champion Brandt Snedeker is part of a strong field. For Woods, his resurgence in the game has largely come down to fitness.

"I just needed to get healthy and once I was able to practice properly I could implement the swing changes and I could get back there," he said. "It happened to be a perfect storm where I was making a swing change and couldn't devote any time to it. Once I was able to do that I started to gain momentum and here we are.

"I didn't have the doubt that people might have expected; I just felt I needed to get healthy so things just didn't hurt."

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