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Woods to Determine Debut Next Week

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Tiger Woods will decide next week when he will make his return to the PGA Tour.
 
Woods has been sidelined since he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Dec. 12.
 
'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 during a teleconference Wednesday.

'I just got clearance on Saturday to start hitting with the driver and so far there have been zero repercussions. I haven't had to make any adjustments to my swing.

'I don't know whether my knee situation can handle it in full practice but next week I'll make a decision as to whether to play in the Buick, in L.A. (for the Nissan Open) or at the (Accenture) Match Play (Championship).'
 
The Buick Invitational will be played at Torrey Pines from Feb. 13-16, with the Nissan taking place the following week. The Match Play is the week after L.A.
 
Woods has been hitting balls since late December, incrementally moving up from sand wedge to driver. But he hasnt played a competitive round since the Target World Challenge, just prior to his surgery.
 
He had not previously missed more than five weeks of tournament golf since turning professional in 1996.
 
'I'm certainly anxious to get back out there and to compete,' he said. 'I'd like to be back on the golf course for one of those three events on the West Coast and, hopefully, it will be the Buick. I need to know by the end of next week.

'I'm going to try and get it up to my best through the Masters. If I'm not feeling great by then, then I'll have to reduce my schedule.'
 
Woods is trying to become the first player to win the Masters three consecutive years. The event will be contested April 10-13.
 
When Woods does return he will find himself at least $1.81 million behind the 8-ball. Ernie Els won the first two tournaments of the season to rocket up the money list and move to No. 2 in the world ranking.
 
Woods, however, doesnt seem too concerned with his deficit.
 
'I don't think it's as big a deal,' he said. 'If I knew he (Els) was going to play in 30 events on our tour, it would be a big deal. But he plays a limited schedule, like I do, so it's not that much of a problem.'