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Published: 3/12/2010

Woods likely to return at Masters, sources say

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DORAL, Fla. - Tiger Woods intends to remain out of golf at least until the Masters, two people with knowledge of his plans said Thursday night.

Woods has been practicing at Isleworth near his Orlando home the last two weeks, and swing coach Hank Haney flew there during the weekend to work with him.

The two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because only Woods is supposed to release such information, say he is likely to play first at Augusta National in April.

Woods twice has gone nine weeks without competing before showing up at a major. The first time was in 2006, when he didn't play after the Masters while coping with his father's death, then missed the cut in a major for the first time in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. Two years ago, he was out with knee surgery until winning the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines on a shattered left knee.

Woods has not played since Nov. 15, when he won the Australian Masters in Melbourne for his 82nd career victory. Twelve days later, he crashed his SUV into a tree near his Florida home, setting off shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife.

In his first public appearance Feb. 19 at the TPC Sawgrass, when he apologized for his behavior and confessed to having extramarital affairs, he said he would return to golf and that "I don't rule out that it will be this year."

There have been signs during the last few weeks he was getting closer.

Woods returned from family therapy in Arizona on Feb. 28 and began getting into a routine of fitness and practice. Haney was working with Woods on the practice range earlier this week.

Meanwhile, former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer declined to comment on reports that he had been brought on board to help with Woods' return.

Several reports said Woods was planning his return at Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he is the defending champion.

Woods has until next Friday to decide about playing at Bay Hill.



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