Saturday 3 December 2016

Woods primed to return from 14-month injury lay-off

James Corrigan

Published 08/10/2016 | 02:30

Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods

The confirmation is in, the waiting is over. Tiger Woods has provided the news all of golf wanted to hear. After 14 months out, the 767th ranked player in the world will make his reappearance at next week's Safeway Open.

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Woods (40) announced last month that he was "scheduled" to play at the event in Napa, California, as well as in next month's European Tour event in Turkey. But, as ever, in the latter career of the 14-time Major winner, nothing was certain about his impending participation, particularly as he added the caveat that he "hoped" to play and that his return depended on his "continued progress and recovery" from multiple back surgeries.

Yet having performed an influential role as an assistant captain in last week's US Ryder Cup captain, Woods notified the PGA Tour, a few hours before deadline, that he would, indeed, tee it up in the circuit's first event of the 2016-17 season.

So a normally low-key event will be swamped by the media with the world of sport and beyond intrigued to discover the state of his game and, of course, his fitness.

However, Woods is adamant that he has taken every precaution in his comeback as he seeks to resume the chase of Jack Nicklaus' record Major haul of 18.

"It was difficult missing tournaments that are important to me, but this time I was smart about my recovery and didn't rush it," Woods said.

On Monday he will play in the Tiger Woods Invitational - an exhibition which benefits his foundation - on the Monterey Peninsula before heading a few hours north to acclimatise himself with the professional fairways in an event which will also include Phil Mickelson.

Meanwhile, Englishman Ross Fisher took a one-shot lead at the halfway point of the Dunhill Links Championship. Fisher shot a 68 at St Andrews after an opening 65 at Kingsbarns and, on 11 under, he leads by one shot from Sweden's Joakim Lagergren going into his third round at Carnoustie.

Lee Westwood must feel like hanging up the clubs for a while. The former world No 1 shot a 10-over 82, compounding his display at the Ryder Cup where he lost all of his three matches.

Fisher has a one-shot lead over Sweden's Joakim Lagergren. First-round leader Alex Noren shot a 71 to finish nine under.

Thomas Pieters is five shots off the pace after a 68 at Kingsbarns, but was left to regret a double bogey on the 17th.

"Just a shame to finish with a double but I was going along nicely and making a few putts," said Pieters, who claimed a record four points from five matches on his debut at Hazeltine. "That three-putt on 17 hurt but I am looking forward to playing St Andrews."

Shane Lowry leads the Irish challenge after carding 68 yesterday to leave him four under overall after a level-par opening round.

Michael Hoey, best of the Irish contingent on the first day, hit a second-round 76 to finish one over overall as Padraig Harrington hit a second-round 73 leaving him at one under.

Paul Dunne again shot level-par yesterday as Paul McGinley and Graeme McDowell had disappointing rounds, finishing seven and three over respectively. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Dunhill Links Championship, Live, Sky Sports 4, 1.00pm

Telegraph.co.uk

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