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Page last updated at 23:24 GMT, Friday, 12 February 2010

Tiger Woods absent from World Match Play field

World number one Tiger Woods
Speculation about when Woods will return is golf's hottest topic

Tiger Woods will not return to golf, as rumoured, at next week's WGC Match Play Championship in Arizona.

The troubled world number one had until 2200 GMT on Friday to confirm his entry for the tournament but failed to do so, extending his break from the sport.

His absence, combined with that of world number three Phil Mickelson, means places in the 64-man field for Britain's Chris Wood and Ross McGowan.

They are currently ranked 65th and 66th in the world respectively.

McGowan will face American top seed Steve Stricker in next Wednesday's first round and Wood will meet stablemate Lee Westwood, now the second seed.

Woods has been on an indefinite break from golf since lurid stories about his private life hit the headlines in late November.

And Europe Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie said he does not think Woods himself knows when he will return to action.

Montgomerie said: "I don't think he knows. The first major is coming up in two months. Will he miss it? Who knows?

"The Masters is the key, if he's back by then he'll be in the Ryder Cup. It will be a better event if he plays and it would mean more to us, if we win, to do it with him playing."

Accenture sponsor the World Match Play event and are one of the companies who have dropped Woods from their advertising, which made a return in Arizona unlikely in the eyes of many golf pundits.

Much more likely, it seems, is either the CA Championship in Miami (11-14 March) or the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando two weeks later.

Woods could opt for a more low-key comeback at the unofficial - and private - Tavistock Cup match on his home course Isleworth in Florida on 22-23 March.

Mickelson is missing the World Match Play to spend time with his family.

His wife and mother were both diagnosed with breast cancer last year, and he announced last week that he would not be competing in Arizona.

Stricker is the top seed after seizing the world number two ranking with a victory in the Northern Trust Open in California last Sunday.

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see also
Stricker fends off Donald for win
08 Feb 10 |  Golf
Woods linked with February return
05 Feb 10 |  Golf
Faldo urges Woods to make return
04 Feb 10 |  Golf
Woods must show humility - Watson
03 Feb 10 |  Golf
Mickelson keen for Woods return
28 Jan 10 |  Golf
Nicklaus warning for absent Woods
10 Jan 10 |  Golf
Tiger Woods takes break from golf
12 Dec 09 |  Americas
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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