By Mark Lamport-Stokes
Monday, December 10, 2007; 5:27 PM
THOUSAND OAKS, California (Reuters) - Holder and tournament host Tiger Woods, refreshed after a two-month break, will hunt his eighth title of the year at this week's Target World Challenge.
The world number one has not played competitive golf since the Presidents Cup in late September and is eager to return after working hard on his fitness.
"I enjoy being mentally fresh and that's one of the reasons I don't play as much as a lot of the guys do," Woods told reporters ahead of his final tournament of 2007.
"This time I got a chance to work on my body and get it stronger than I've ever had it, which is fun, and I haven't put on any weight, which has been great. I've leaned up a little bit."
The 31-year-old American heads a strong 16-man field that includes world number three Jim Furyk, U.S. Masters champion Zach Johnson and British Open winner Padraig Harrington.
Ten of the world's top 20 will compete for a first prize of $1.35 million at Sherwood Country Club. The overall purse is $5.75 million.
Three-times winner Woods will tee off at the invitational tournament on Thursday as the odds-on favorite after dominating the 2007 PGA Tour with seven victories.
He clinched his 13th major title in the U.S. PGA Championship at Southern Hills in August before ending the season with record earnings of $10,867,052.
"Any time you win a major championship in the year it's always going to be a great year and this certainly is," said Woods, who also became a father for the first time in June.
"I would describe it as a polar opposite of last year, not necessarily because of what I did on the golf course but what happened off it," he added, referring to the death of his father Earl in May 2006.
"The most incredible thing is everything I did on the golf course, it gets put into perspective real quick when something happens like last year and then with (daughter) Sam this year. This is the coolest ride ever."
Woods, champion in 2001 and 2004, completed a hat-trick of titles with a four-shot victory at Sherwood last year.
Proceeds from the event go to Tiger Woods Foundation projects and the Tiger Woods Learning Centre in Anaheim.
This week's field is: Woods, Furyk, Steve Stricker, Harrington, Vijay Singh, Johnson, Luke Donald, Rory Sabbatini, Henrik Stenson, Niclas Fasth, Paul Casey, Lee Westwood, Brett Wetterich, Mark Calcavecchia, Colin Montgomerie and Fred Couples.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)