When will Tiger return to golf?

With speculation running rampant that Tiger Woods has left the Mississippi sex rehab facility where he’s reportedly been seeking treatment, one of the questions on everyone’s mind is: When will Woods return to golf?

“At this point, I don’t even think Tiger knows when he’s coming back,” said veteran golf writer Art Spander, who spoke with Woods the weekend before his infamous Thanksgiving car crash that made world headlines.

One venue where Woods might re-emerge is the Accenture Match Play Championship, a five-day competition in Marana, Arizona, that begins Wednesday, February 17. Woods has won the event, which is open to the world’s top 64 golfers, three times. And as the world’s No. 1-ranked player, he’s technically already entered to compete.

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“We don’t know anything official yet, but wouldn’t that be nice?” Wade Dunagan, executive director of the big PGA event, told the Arizona Daily Star. “The main question is, ‘Do I know anything you don’t?’ The answer is no. We’re still in the dark. I can’t confirm or deny anything, because I don’t know.”

More games, more questions

If Woods, 34, does choose to bow out of the competition, he’ll need to do it no later than Monday, February 15, but some pundits are saying he’d probably choose to do it sometime over this weekend.

PGA Tour spokesman Chris Reimer called reports of the golfer’s return mere “speculation.”

Two other competitions where Woods could stage his return are the March 4-7 Honda Classic and the March 11-14 WGCCA Championship at Doral, both held in south Florida. At this point, it doesn’t appear that Woods has decided whether or not he’ll play either event. According to PGA rules, he can hold off notifying organizers of his intention to compete until the Friday before the tournament.

“We’d love to have him play here for his comeback,” said Caroline Kerrigan, spokeswoman for the WGCCA Championship at Doral Golf Resort. “I know this is one of his favorite courses, but I don’t have any word on whether or not he’s playing [our event].”

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Will Tiger pass Jack?

In December, Jack Nicklaus, who owns the record of 18 major championships that Woods could eventually eclipse, told reporters he doesn’t “know the answer to what [Tiger] is going to do and what he is going to play. Certainly this year, where the majors are … he obviously loves Augusta, Pebble Beach and St. Andrews. He basically owns all three of those places. If Tiger is going to pass my record, I think this is a big year for him in that regard. If he doesn’t play this year, obviously the chore is going to be a little tougher.”

But, as Woods’s pal Roger Federer predicted in December: “Soon he’ll become the wonderful golfer that we know again.”

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