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Tiger Woods will return to golf at Masters

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Tiger Woods will return to competition on perhaps the biggest stage in golf -- the Masters.

The humbled golfer, whose winter of discontent included revelations of multiple affairs and subsequent therapy, ended weeks of speculation this morning with a five-paragraph statement sent to media outlets.

“The Masters is where I won my first major and I view this tournament with great respect,” Woods began. “After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I’m ready to start my season at Augusta.

“The major championships have always been a special focus in my career and, as a professional, I think Augusta is where I need to be, even though it’s been a while since I last played.”

Perhaps an hour earlier, Arnold Palmer had confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel that Woods would not defend his title at his namesake tournament next week at Bay Hill Club & Lodge.

Palmer said he had spoken with Woods in recent days, and that they ended the conversation with “See you in Augusta.”

It will be Woods’ tournament since winning the Australian Open last November. He returned to tabloid headlines of an affair with a New York City events planner, then wrecked his SUV in an apparent hasty departure Nov. 27 from his Isleworth driveway.

Woods was treated at a local hospital after the accident, then disappeared from public view as more than a dozen women either came forth with tales of affairs with golf’s top attraction or were linked to trysts with him.

Woods made his first public appearance Feb. 19, admitting to multiple affairs and acknowledging he was undergoing treatment for his behavior.

“I have undergone almost two months of inpatient therapy and I am continuing my treatment,” he said in today’s statement. “ Although I’m returning to competition, I still have a lot of work to do in my personal life.”

jshain@orlandosentinel.com


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