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Tiger Woods returns to defend Match Play title
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Tiger Woods and his surgically repaired left knee will be the center of attention today as the golf superstar ends an eight-month layoff at the Accenture Match Play Championship.

The 14-time major champion breathed new life into the golf season with a simple announcement on his Web site last week: "I’m now ready to play again."

They were the words golf fans — not to mention sponsors and tournament organizers — had been longing to hear.

Woods will face Australian Brendan Jones, the last player to make the field at No. 64 in the world rankings, in the opening round. Jones said he’s just trying to enjoy his unaccustomed moment in the spotlight, but he knows his opponent is the man everyone will be watching.

Woods is the overall top seed of the tournament. He is joined by Spain’s Sergio Garcia, Ireland’s Padraig Harrington and Fiji’s Vijay Singh, each of them heading one of the four brackets of the draw.

Garcia will face No. 63 Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, Harrington takes on American Pat Perez and Singh will play Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen in the first round.

Phil Mickelson, fresh from defending his USPGA Tour title in Los Angeles on Sunday, is in the same bracket as Singh and will take on Argentina’s Angel Cabrera.

To go all the way, Woods would have to play the equivalent of seven rounds in five days, with the 18-hole quarterfinals and semifinals both held Saturday and a 36-hole championship final Sunday. Woods is the defending champion, posting an emphatic 8 and 7 victory over Stewart Cink last year at the nearby Gallery Golf Club.

(Agencies via Shenzhen Daily Feburary 25, 2009)

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