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Page last updated at 21:02 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 22:02 UK

Mickelson returns for WGC event

The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational
Date: 6-9 August
Coverage: End of play reports on the BBC Sport website

Phil Mickelson
Mickelson returns to the tour after taking six weeks out of action

Phil Mickelson will return to the PGA Tour for the first time in six weeks when the star-studded WGC-Bridgestone Invitational tees off on Thursday.

The American world number two has spent time away from competition caring for his ill wife and mother, but returns among a host of the game's top stars.

World number one Tiger Woods will also compete in Ohio as he looks for a fifth tour win since knee surgery last year.

"This year has been a tremendous step in the right direction," he said.

"Just being able to come back and play and be successful again has been great.

"If you would have asked me at the beginning of the year before I even played whether I'd have four wins by now, I couldn't see it because walking 18 holes was going to be a task."

To be as consistent as I've been the entire year coming back, that's one of the things I'm probably the most proud of

Tiger Woods

Woods, a 14-time major champion, was sidelined for eight months up until early this year after reconstructive knee surgery.

And the 33-year-old American, who triumphed most recently at the Buick Open on Sunday, added: "Looking back on it now, where I was in February and where I'm at now is just night and day.

"To win, and not only win but be as consistent as I've been the entire year coming back, that's one of the things I'm probably the most proud of."

Lee Westwood, Retief Goosen and recent Open winner Stewart Cink also feature.

The tournament represents the last competitive action ahead of the PGA Championship at Hazeltine for many players.

And Englishman Westwood will be hoping to impress after three successive top 10 finishes, while he will have good memories of the event having tied for second behind Vijay Singh last year.

He finished runner-up at the Open at Turnberry when a bogey at the last cost him the chance of a play-off with Tom Watson and Cink, but the 36-year-old says he will take the positives from his performance at Turnberry into the tournament at the Firestone Country Club.

"I came very close to winning what for me is the biggest tournament, the most important tournament, in the world," he said.


"I have to take all that into a positive and take the confidence I can draw from that for the rest of the season and, firstly, these next two weeks.

"I've always thought this was a golf course that suited me. I played well here last year, got quite close and played pretty nicely all week.

"Winning a World Golf Championship (WGC event) would mean an awful lot. When you look at it, they're just a slight tier down from the majors."

Paul Casey, Nick Dougherty, Ross Fisher and Justin Rose of England, and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy will also be bidding for glory.

And Ireland's Padraig Harrington, who tees off last alongside Dane Soren Hansen and American Scott Verplank said he will be aiming to impress after getting to grips with his remodelled swing.

"Obviously it's good to have a few weeks off where you can do that work but I'm back out here to play," he said.

I probably learned a lot more about my game than I ever could have wished to have learned

Padraig Harrington

"I definitely found what I was looking for, and in that process I probably learned a lot more about my game than I ever could have wished to have learned.

"I was trying to change something in my downswing. I've been trying to change it for the last three years but it became the priority over the last eight months. As the priority, it actually worked."

Goosen, meanwhile, has finished in the top five on his last two starts and Cink will be playing his first tournament since winning at Turnberry, at a course in which he was victorious in 2004.

For Woods, it is the first time this season that he has played in the final two preparation events ahead of a major.

But after failing to make the cut of a major championship at the Open for only the second time in his career, a change of approach has been adopted by the American.

However, Swede Robert Karlsson is set to miss out after failing to get over a long-standing eye problem.

The Swede has been off the course since competing for the European Open in May, with the problem affecting both his balance and his vision.

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see also
Woods clinches Buick Open victory
02 Aug 09 |  Golf
Cink dashes Watson's Open dreams
19 Jul 09 |  Golf
Westwood laments missed chances
19 Jul 09 |  Golf
Harrington aims to stay positive
19 Jul 09 |  Golf
Dougherty bemoans Open challenge
19 Jul 09 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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