- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tiger Woods said Tuesday he will end his four-month exile from pro golf by playing at the Masters next month.

“The Masters is where I won my first major and I view this tournament with great respect,” he said in a statement. “After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I’m ready to start my season at Augusta.”

Woods, the game’s dominant player, left the PGA tour after crashing a vehicle over Thanksgiving weekend outside his Florida home, which resulted in a series of revelations about extramarital affairs that unraveled his life.

Woods, 34, officially left the tour Dec. 11. He held a Feb. 9 media event in which he said he planned to return to golf but gave no time line. He also acknowledged being in therapy.

He said today that he remains in therapy.

“Although I’m returning to competition, I still have a lot of work to do in my personal life,” said Woods, who has two young children with wife Elin Nordegren.

He has won 14 major PGA events, including four Masters tournaments, a figure that puts him four behind Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major victories.

“The major championships have always been a special focus in my career and, as a professional, I think Augusta is where I need to be, even though it’s been a while since I last played,” Woods said in the statement. “When I finally got into a position to think about competitive golf again, it became apparent to me that the Masters would be the earliest I could play.”

Woods said he called Joe Lewis and Arnold Palmer to apologize for not attending the Tavistock Cup and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, ending weeks of speculation about him possibly returning to golf at one of those events.

“I again want to thank them both for their support and their understanding,” said Woods, a marketing powerhouse who has retained Nike and most other major sponsors during his ordeal.

He last played Nov. 15, when he won the Australian Open.

The Masters, at the Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club, is from April 8 to 11.

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