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Page last updated at 18:21 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Woods fit and ready for comeback


Woods has not played since winning the US Open at Torrey Pines last June.

Tiger Woods said he feels fitter than ever ahead of this week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.

The 14-time major winner has been out for eight months after reconstructive surgery on the knee.

"I didn't think it would feel this good, I have not known what it is like to feel this way before, so healthy, solid and secure," he said.

"I am doing the same things I have always been trying to do but now I have got a leg I can do it on."

The tournament, which begins on Wednesday, will be Woods' first since winning the US Open at Torrey Pines last June.

Somebody said Tiger's announced he's coming back and I got a few chills up the back of my neck

Brendan Jones
The 33-year-old ended his 2008 campaign after revealing he had played with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and a double stress fracture of the tibia below it.

But Woods has been back practising at full power in Arizona and said the signs are looking good.

"The strength in both legs feels a lot stronger than it has ever been with stability I have not had in years.

"Basically practise went really well, I felt really good to be back in a competitive environment."

Woods will face Australian Brendan Jones in the first round on Wednesday, and the world number one will be wary as he has lost to Australians three times in this tournament.

Peter O'Malley beat woods in the first round in 2002 and Nick O'Hern got the better of him in the second and third rounds in 2005 and in 2007.

World number 64 Jones hopes that he can continue the trend.

"It's a chance of a lifetime," said the Australian. "I'm very, very excited," said Jones.

"It is one of the most anticipated comebacks in any sport and to have a front row seat is a great honour.

"Tiger came out and said that he was going to play and I was overjoyed. It's the chance to play probably the best player of my generation.

"My friends have all said, 'you can beat him, you can beat him. It's a different format, matchplay's a funny game, anything can happen."

Jones, 33, has spent much of his career in Japan, where he has won eight titles - most recently the Tsuruya Open in April 2007.

His only season on the USPGA Tour was 2005, when he finished 144th on the money list.

With his Japanese schedule not due to start until April, Jones said he had not even been practising in the run-up to the Match Play.

"Obviously, I know I'm a longshot. I have got nothing to lose. I can just go out, be a lot more aggressive than what I normally would be. And if you say what are my chances, I have some sort of chance," he said.

"I didn't fly all this way to try to lose. I'm here to try to beat him."

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