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Perry: I'll give Tiger a big hug on return

KENNY PERRY has urged Tiger Woods to get back to golf as quickly as possible for his own sake, saying he'd like to give Woods "a hug, shake his hand" and let him know "we're his family too".

Perry (49) is an elder statesmen of US golf, though two victories last season plus a play-off defeat at The Masters show he's still got his finger on the pulse of the PGA Tour.

Visiting the Middle East for the first time for today's Qatar Masters in Doha, Perry (right) said Woods can expect a warm welcome back when he brings his "indefinite break" from golf to a conclusion.

"I think Tiger needs to come back," Perry insisted. "I've been on Tour 25 years and I enjoy going to tournaments each week because there's 150 guys I'm pretty close to and love to hang out with.

"So I think if he comes back to us, he'll get a lot of support from the players, I really do. There's a lot of guys who think a lot of him. He made a mistake, we all make mistakes.

"I know he's kicking himself off to the side when we don't see him. He's probably beating himself up pretty bad. I want him back as a friend, to kind of help him out; get through the problem and settle himself a little bit."

Perry said he'd not been in touch with Tiger, who reportedly admitted himself to a sex addiction clinic in Mississippi earlier this month as allegations of infidelity made against him by a series of women threaten to wreck his marriage to wife Elin.

"I'm sure he's had a lot of phone calls and a lot of people trying to get near him," said Perry. "When he decides to come back, I'll approach him. I'm going to give him a hug, shake his hand and tell him if he needs to talk or if I can help in any way, I will.

"I think that's the way we all should be," added the PGA Tour stalwart, who is eligible to play on the Champions Tour from August 10 but is still driven by the desire to challenge at this season's Majors and play in his third Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor.

Though "crucified" after skipping the 2008 British Open at Birkdale to play in Milwaukee as he tried to copper-fasten his place on the winning US team at Valhalla in his native Kentucky, Perry last night advised stay-at-home colleagues on the PGA Tour to broaden their horizons and improve their golf game by playing abroad more often.

Irish Independent