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Foes: Woods will be fine in 2009


Tiger Woods’ anticipated return to the PGA Tour after a fourth surgery to his left knee is up in the air. But his colleagues are confident about one thing – the world’s No. 1 could come back even better.

“He isn’t going to be worse,” said rising star Anthony Kim, who headlines the PGA Tour’s season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship this week in Hawaii with Camilo Villegas, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and Adam Scott. “We all know it’s going to be a long year trying to beat him.”

Woods begins the year in Florida, however, where he continues to mend his surgically repaired left knee. Also missing the winners-only Mercedes-Benz are world No. 2 Sergio Garcia, No. 3 Phil Mickelson and No. 4 Padraig Harrington, all forgoing the season opener for rest and practice.

Woods’ 2008 was cut short when he had surgery eight days after defeating Rocco Mediate in a 19-hole playoff to win the U.S. Open in June. A tendon was taken out of his right hamstring and became his left knee’s anterior cruciate ligament. Some cartilage damage was tended to and the double stress fracture in his left tibia has healed.

His latest surgery was his second in 2008 – he had cartilage damage repaired in an operation two days after finishing runner-up to Trevor Immelman at The Masters in April. Woods also had left-knee surgery in 1994 to remove a benign tumor and in 2002 to remove a benign cyst.

“Long-term this is the greatest thing that could have happened, to go in there and reconstruct it. Now it’s better than it’s been in over a decade,” Woods said in December at the Chevron World Challenge he hosted.

In the short term, Woods intends to go for a fifth green jacket in April. His hope is to play at least one event before that, possibly in March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, where he is defending champ, or the World Golf Championships-CA Championship near Miami.

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