| 10.1°C Dublin

Hopes raised for return of Woods

It was a good job that Tiger Woods did not wait another 24 hours before playing a practice round at Augusta National ahead of next week's Masters.

Reports yesterday that his private plane had been spotted at the local airport would have been treated as an April Fool's joke, rather than the biggest indication to date that the former world number one (right) will end his self-imposed exile from the game in the Masters.

Thankfully, the reports were on March 31 and from a credible source, the Augusta Chronicle, while Woods's agent eventually confirmed that his client had played 18 holes with two club members.

Woods had not yet officially stated whether he will compete at Augusta, having not played since February 5, when he withdrew during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

Less than a week later he announced that he was taking an indefinite break from the game, saying that his game was not up to his standards.

However, given that he hardly needs to familiarise himself with a venue where he was won four of his 14 major titles, it is looking increasingly likely that the 39-year-old will not miss the year's first major championship for the second year in succession.