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Woods paired with Clarke at WGC-Bridgestone

Golf Talk Central
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In his long-awaited return from injury at this week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Tiger Woods will be paired with Darren Clarke during the first two rounds at Firestone Country Club, Golf Channel has learned.

Woods has a long friendship with Clarke that dates back to his early professional years. Just last month, the 14-time major champion sent him encouraging text messages prior to the final round of the Open Championship, then followed with congratulatory messages one day later.

In 2000, Clarke defeated Woods in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. The two have been paired many times since, including during the third round of last year’s Open Championship.

Woods has not completed a tournament since finishing in a share of fourth place at the Masters four months ago, where he suffered leg and Achilles injuries after hitting a shot from beneath the Eisenhower Tree on the 17th hole in Round 3. He played nine holes at The Players Championship in May, but withdrew after posting a 6-over 42 for nine holes.

On Monday, he practiced at Atlanta Athletic Club, site of next week’s PGA Championship. He will be in Akron, Ohio, for a scheduled 10 a.m. ET news conference on Tuesday prior to playing in the Bridgestone, an event he has won seven times in 11 previous attempts.