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Tiger Woods wonders how his knee will hold up

Woods doesn't know how sharp he will be when he returns next week after an eight-month absence.

February 21, 2009|Chuck Culpepper

In a notable development, the bones in Tiger Woods' left knee no longer roam around wreaking pain and fret.

"My bones aren't moving anymore," Woods said Friday in a teleconference from Orlando, Fla., one day after announcing he'd return to the PGA Tour next week at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona. "That's a very comforting feeling, hitting a golf ball and not having your bones slide all over the place."

Eight months after surgery last June 24, Woods said he hits golf balls without pain for the first time in "years," but that he still cannot ascertain "how the thing's going to behave in a competitive environment, and how the recovery is going to be day-to-day."

That uncertainty leaves him atypically unable to pinpoint his schedule for the remainder of the year.

As Woods awaits his comeback match Wednesday, probably against Australia's Brendan Jones, the world's 64th-ranked player, in the first round of the Match Play, his foremost concern would be "whether or not my game's sharp." Asked if he could go 36 holes next Saturday and Sunday, Woods said, "Well, I'd like to have that problem, bud."

Having tweaked his swing as well, he said, "I'm as curious as you too. Getting out there and competing again and feeling the adrenaline and feeling the rush of competing and playing again, all of that." Match play, he said, rated a good place to start because of the competitive emphasis placed upon each hole.

Still, Woods said that had his wife Elin not been pregnant with their second child and first son, Charlie Axel, born Feb. 8, he "probably" would have returned already, and that he waited for Elin's approval before returning at all. And while he mentioned time with his 20-month-old daughter, Sam, as the best byproduct of his absence, he referred to some emotions seldom known to come from him.

"I wanted improvement right away," he said. "The first few months anyone that's ever dealt with an ACL, it's just brutal. You lose all your muscle. You lose your flexibility. You lose all your endurance. It's just a terrible feeling. But then building that up, it came back quickly."

At the Riviera Country Club, where 144 golfers contested the Northern Trust Open, players continued to greet Woods' return with both excitement and the hope he'd be on the other side of the draw in the Match Play.

"I think we owe him a lot as a player," 20th-ranked Steve Stricker said. "I've thanked him a number of times, I really have. It's just I don't see how it's a bad thing unless you have such a big ego that he took the limelight away from you or something, I don't know. But I just think it's all positive."

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chuck.culpepper@yahoo.com

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