Tiger will return to PGA Tour next week

BY foxsports • February 20, 2009

Eight months after winning the U.S. Open on one good leg, a healthy Tiger Woods is returning to golf.

Woods said on his Web site on Thursday he will defend his title next week in the Accenture Match Play Championship, believing his reconstructed left knee and his game were good enough to win.

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"I'm now ready to play again," Woods said.

The Match Play Championship in Tucson, Arizona begins on Wednesday.

Players whom Woods has beaten so often while compiling 65 U.S. PGA Tour victories were happy to hear he was coming back.

"He was ready to go weeks ago," Stuart Appleby said at Riviera. "I don't think he needs to do a couple of laps around the track. He'll be on that horse and he'll be whipping it."

The timing for Woods to end his 253-day break from competition could not be better for the U.S. PGA Tour, which has seen television ratings and media attention plunge after the world's No. 1 player had to miss the second half of the season, including two majors, the Ryder Cup and the FedEx Cup playoffs.

"We are delighted that Tiger is returning to competition and look forward to watching him compete next week," commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement.

The last shot Woods hit for real was a short par putt on the 91st hole of the U.S. Open at San Diego, where he defeated Rocco Mediate in a playoff to capture his 14th major, which Woods described as "probably the best ever" under the circumstances.

He had surgery after the Masters last year to repair cartilage damage in his left knee, and suffered a double stress fracture in his left leg while preparing for his return.

He limped badly over the final few days of the U.S. Open, later saying the swelling was so bad at night that he couldn't see his knee cap. A week after winning, he had reconstructive surgery, the third operation on his left knee in five years.

What to expect?

"He's human," swing coach Hank Haney said. "He has played one tournament in 10 months. I would think he would be a little rusty, but I really don't know what to expect. Nothing with Tiger ever surprises me."

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