Woods to return at Arizona event

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LOS ANGELES, February 20 – Tiger Woods will mark his return to the PGA Tour following the longest layoff of his career by competing in next week's World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.

TIGER_WOODS"I am now ready to play again," Woods said. "Elin and our new son Charlie are doing great. I’ve enjoyed my time at home with the family and appreciate everyone’s support and kind wishes."

The tournament will be the 14-time major winners’ first event since winning the US Open last June at Torrey Pines. Woods made the announcement on his website, www.tigerwoods.com.

Less than two weeks after his US Open triumph Woods underwent season-ending surgery to reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Woods also had stress fractures in his left tibia, injuries that affected him during his gritty US Open win.

The timing for Woods’ return was affected by several factors and not just the rehab on his knee. Woods’ wife Elin just gave birth to their second child Charlie Axel on February 8.

"We received confirmation today that Tiger Woods has committed to play in next week’s Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson, Ariz." PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said Thursday. "We are delighted that

Tiger is returning to competition and look forward to watching him compete next week."
Woods will be included in the 64-player field which begins play February 25 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club course in Marana, Arizona.

Woods has won the Accenture Match Play Championship three times, including last year when he beat Stewart Cink 8 and 7 in the 36-hole championship match. Of his nine starts at the Accenture Match Play Championship, he has seven top 10s.

Woods is scheduled to face Brendan Jones in the opening round on Wednesday unless someone withdraws from the event.

World No. 64 Jones played in his first Accenture Match Play Championship last year and lost to Australian compatriot Adam Scott 2 and 1 in the first round.

Woods trails only Jack Nicklaus (18) with his 14 major victories. He is also third overall on the PGA Tour win list with 65 victories. Only Sam Snead (82) and Nicklaus (73) have more.

Woods won four times in his six starts on the Tour in 2008 and placed second in The Masters. He also won the PGA European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic.

Woods did not finish lower than fifth in the half dozen starts last season – which was also halted for some time by April 15 arthroscopic surgery on the same knee.

In one of the greatest performances of his career, Woods needed 91 holes to beat Rocco Mediate in the 2008 US Open in San Diego. Eight days after the playoff win, Woods underwent the reconstructive knee surgery.

Woods’ caddie Steve Williams had hinted to a New Zealand television station on Wednesday that Woods was close to announcing his return.

"He’s probably 95 percent of the way there," Williams told Television New Zealand. "He was waiting for the birth of his second child which just came last week so he’s ready to go. He just needs a little bit more walking. He hasn’t been able to walk too well.

"He definitely wants to play a couple of tournaments before Augusta."

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