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Golf: Woods set for return from injury

Tiger Woods will make his return from a back injury that has sidelined him since March at the US PGA Tour's National next week.

WASHINGTON: Tiger Woods will make his return from a back injury that has sidelined him since March at the US PGA Tour's National next week.

The 14-time major champion, who has been toppled from the world number one ranking by Australian Adam Scott during his latest injury layoff, said on his Facebook page on Friday that he expects to be "a bit rusty" at Congressional Country Club, but he wants to play in the event that benefits his charitable foundation.

"After a lot of therapy I have recovered well and will be supporting my foundation next week at the Quicken Loans National," Woods said.

"I've just started to hit full shots but it's time to take the next step. I will be a bit rusty but I want to play myself back into competitive shape. Excited for the challenge ahead."

Woods, 38, hasn't played since he struggled to a 78 in the final round of the World Golf Championships event at Doral on March 9, and on March 31 he underwent a microdiscectomy to relieve pain from a pinched nerve.

He missed the first two major championships of the year, the Masters and the US Open, and without a title yet this year has fallen to fourth in the world rankings behind Scott, Henrik Stenson and Masters winner Bubba Watson.

Woods's decision to return next week bolsters expectations that he will be able to resume his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major titles at the year's next major, the British Open at Royal Liverpool's Hoylake course July 17-20.

Woods won the last of his three Open titles at Hoylake in 2006. His last major triumph was at the 2008 US Open.

On May 19, speaking to reporters to promote the National, Woods said that his rehabilitation was progressing well but he had not begun to make full swings.

But this week the Golf Channel and Golfdigest.com reported that Woods, rather than watching the final round of the US Open on Sunday, had practised at Medalist Golf Club near his Florida home and had hit full shots, including his driver.

Although Woods has started just four events worldwide this year, he hasn't been idle in other professional endeavors.

On Wednesday, sports nutrition company MusclePharm said they had inked a sponsorship deal with Woods that will include having their logo on his golf bag.

"We are excited to work with Tiger to bring more attention to nutritional science and how it can enhance strength and overall athletic performance, and most importantly, fuel athletes safety," said MusclePharm chief executive Brad Pyatt, a former NFL player.

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