Tiger returns with new caddie, old hunger to win

October 06, 2011 | 07:00
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A healthy Tiger Woods makes his return from a two-month layoff on Thursday at the $5 million US PGA Frys.com Open with something to prove to those who say his best days are behind him.

The 14-time major champion, chasing the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, has not won any event in almost two years, since the revelation of a secret sex life that led to divorce and shattered his iconic image.

Woods has battled left knee and tendon injuries suffered at the Masters in April, where his share of fourth place was his best showing in eight starts this year. He hasn't played since missing the cut in August's PGA Championship.

"I've had a chance to prepare. I'm getting back to my normal routine," Woods said. "I'm excited to be back. I've had good practice sessions at home and I'm eager to get back under the gun."

Such notable major champions as Nick Faldo and Greg Norman have said they do not see Woods winning another major but the former World No. 1, now ranked 51st and out of the top 50 for the first time in 15 years, fired back Wednesday.

"I've heard that before. It's not the first time I've heard that," Woods said. "I've kept on winning them too."

Woods fired a course-record 62 last week on the Medalist layout in Florida where he has conducted much of his training.

"I hadn't posted a low round in a long time so that was something it felt good to do," Woods said.

"It was pretty easy. I left a few out there. It was just one of those rounds. It's hard to believe I shot that because I didn't feel like it."

Woods said his work with coach Sean Foley has taken him to the point where he is tweaking small details rather than struggling with rebuilding his swing, part of his problems over his win drought.

"We're always fine tuning the game, but the major overhauls are done," Woods said.

"I've done all that work. Now it's just fine tuning day to day, shot to shot. That's part of golf and it's part of the challenge.

"I'm happy with how everything has progressed from tee to green. I've got a chance to practice and work on everything, which is something I hadn't been able to do for a while. I'm very pleased with every facet of my game."

Woods blamed missing the cut at the year's final major on having only two weeks of full fitness to train for the event.

"I was limited to how many holes I could play, how long I could be standing on my leg. All that was limiting," Woods said.

"I'm able to walk the golf course. I've got my strength back. I got the explosiveness back in the leg. All that has come back. And that's just from training and having time to heal."

Woods tries to recapture the winning touch on Thursday afternoon with playing partners Patrick Cantlay, a US college amateur, and South African Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion.

Also with Woods will be new caddie Joe LaCava, the former caddie for PGA rival Dustin Johnson who Woods hired to replace Steve Williams, now the bagman for Australian star Adam Scott.

"He got a look and a feel for what I like and how I see it," Woods said of his first PGA practice round on Wednesday with LaCava carrying the clubs.


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