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Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 23:10 GMT
Woods eyes comeback
Tiger Woods
Woods underwent knee surgery in December
Tiger Woods says he is delighted with his progress after knee surgery and will decide when to return to competition by the end of next week.

The world number one had a successful one-hour operation to remove fluid from around his anterior cruciate ligament on 12 December and hopes to make his first PGA Tour appearance at next month's Buick Invitational.

"There's no pain in my knee at all now and I'm better than I have been for a couple of years," Woods said.

"I just got clearance on Saturday to start hitting with the driver and so far there have been no repercussions. I haven't had to make any adjustments to my swing.

I'm certainly anxious to get back out there and compete

Tiger Woods
"I don't know whether my knee can handle it in full practice but next week I'll make a decision as to whether to play in the Buick."

The Buick Invitational will be played at Torrey Pines from 13 to 16 February.

Woods, the US Masters and US Open champion, has been hitting balls since the end of last year but is eager to return to tournament action.

The 27-year-old had not previously missed more than five weeks of tournament golf since turning professional in 1996.

His withdrawal from the season-opening Mercedes Championships in Hawaii was the first of his career because of injury.

Challenge

"I'm certainly anxious to get back out there and to compete," he said.

"I'm going to try and get it up to my best through the US Masters. If I'm not feeling great by then, then I'll have to reduce my schedule."

The Masters, the first major of the year, will be played at Augusta from 10 to 13 April and Woods will be aiming to become the first man to win the title three years in a row.

Woods said he had been impressed by the fast start made to the year by Ernie Els, who won the opening two events on the PGA Tour to rocket into the number one spot in the US money list.

"I don't think I've ever seen Ernie swing so well," said Woods. "I think it's great that he and Vijay Singh have made such good starts.

"It's going to be a challenge because they're playing so well but it's going to be fun getting out there and playing against them."

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