5 Apr 2015

Woods to play Masters

5:03 am on 5 April 2015

Tiger Woods has ended weeks of speculation, announcing he will play in next week's Masters golf tournament at Augusta National.

Hobbled by back problems and poor play this year, Woods made the decision to go for his 15th major title after his second visit of the week to the famed Georgia course.

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Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Masters, the first major of the year, begins on Friday (NZ time) and will end a two-month absence from tournament play for the former world number one.

Woods, who has won the tournament 4 times, says it's obviously very important for him and he wants to be there.

He told his website that he's worked a lot on his game and is looking forward to competing.

Woods missed last year's event after being advised by doctors to have a microdiscectomy to repair a pinched nerve in his back.

The lure of Augusta has obviously proved irresistible to the 39-year-old, who has been plagued by a woeful short game over recent months.

Tiger Woods chase for major titles has stalled at 14 with on going back problems.

Tiger Woods chase for major titles has stalled at 14 with on going back problems. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Woods, who is still adapting to the fifth swing change of his career, this time with new consultant Chris Como, has dropped to 104th in the world rankings and bookmakers consider him a longshot to win the Masters.

Centrebet and Ladbrokes both list him at 40/1.

World number one Rory McIlroy is the tournament favorite.

Woods has not played in any tournament since withdrawing with tightness in his back during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open near San Diego on February 5th.

Woods later announced he would take a break from competition until he felt his game was ready to compete at the highest level.

He has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open and his most recent Masters victory came 10 years ago, though he has contended several times since, including just two years ago, when he finished only four strokes off the pace after incurring a two-shot penalty for a rules violation.

Woods struggled badly in his first two events this year.

He posted the highest score of his professional career, a shocking 11-over-par 82 to miss the cut at the Phoenix Open in January.

A pathetic short game made him look more like a struggling amateur than the greatest player of his generation, prompting some experts to opine that he had the "chipping yips".

He did not look much better the following week at Torrey Pines, where he was two over par after 11 holes when he pulled out, his third withdrawal in his last nine tournaments.

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