10 Aug 2011

British Open champ backs Tiger

6:09 am on 10 August 2011

Tiger Woods was a surprising absentee for PGA Championship practice but he won the backing of British Open champion Darren Clarke who believes the American can contend for the year's final major.

Woods, who played 18 holes in practice at the hosting Atlanta Athletic Club last Tuesday, is expected to be back at the par-70 course on Thursday when he is scheduled to hold a news conference on the eve of the championship.

The former world number one, who has claimed four PGA Championship titles, has struggled this year while battling injuries and trying to rebuild his golf swing and his private life following the breakup of his marriage.

He returned to the PGA Tour, after three months on the sidelines with leg injuries, at last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational where he tied for 37th after displaying erratic form.

However, Northern Irishman Clarke believes Woods showed enough form last week in Akron, Ohio to indicate he could be a genuine contender for the PGA Championship on Monday.

Woods, who has had four surgeries on his left knee over the years, has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open nor any tournament worldwide since 2009 and contrary to Clarke the British world number one Luke Donald does not expect that to change this week.