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Woods on comeback trail

MIAMI, March 12 – Speculation was mounting Thursday that Tiger Woods will return to competitive golf within the next month, but just where and when remained a mystery.
Woods was sighted Sunday working on the driving range at his home course in Florida with his instructor Hank Haney.

Fellow pro Robert Allenby of Australia is among those who don’t think Woods would have flown Haney into town unless his comeback was imminent.

"If he wasn’t going to play for six months, why would Hank be there?" Allenby said Thursday at the World Golf Championships CA Championship. "I look at that as maybe he’s getting ready."

Woods took an indefinite hiatus from competitive golf in the wake of a sex scandal that engulfed him last November.

In his only public remarks since, Woods said last month that he did not know when he would return.

The New York Post, citing two unnamed "sources in the golf community" reported Thursday that Woods was prepping for a possible return at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando on March 25.

The Post reported Woods had consulted Ari Fleischer, the former presidential adviser to George W. Bush, on strategy to manage his return.

The Bay Hill tournament is run by Woods’ management company, International Management Group, but the tournament director says he has not heard from Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg.

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While Woods has won at Bay Hill six times, from 2000-2003 and again in 2008 and 2009, the first major championship of the year, the Masters at Augusta National in April also remains a likely venue for his return.

Augusta National is famed for its water-tight security, which means it would be next to impossible for the paparazzi to gain access to the course.

Speculation has also centered on the Tavistock Cup, a made-for-TV exhibition team event between PGA talent from rival exclusive clubs Isleworth and Lake Nona.

Golfer Mark O’Meara, a friend and neighbor of Woods, fanned that flame this week when he told Golf Channel that he "wouldn’t be surprised" to see Woods play the Tavistock Cup, which is set for March 22-23. Woods has represented Isleworth in the past.

Isleworth is hosting the event this year, so Woods wouldn’t even have to leave the property.

"I hope he plays Tavistock Cup, because we need him on our team. And I hope he plays Bay Hill and then I hope he plays Augusta," said Allenby, who will be part of Isleworth’s Tavistock Cup team.

"He’s the best golfer in the world and we want to play the best, (although) I’m definitely making more money when he’s not playing."

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