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    • Tiger's competitors readying for his return

    • Tiger Woods hosts the Quicken Loans National next week. In 2013, he handed the trophy to Bill Haas. (Rob Carr/Getty Images) Tiger Woods hosts the Quicken Loans National next week. In 2013, he handed the trophy to Bill Haas. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

    CROMWELL, Conn. -- Golf isn’t the same without Tiger Woods, says Keegan Bradley.

    “Every time he’s in the field, the event is different,” Bradley said. “That might not be the right thing to say, but it’s really exciting when he’s out there.

    “We need Tiger. The whole TOUR needs Tiger and golf needs Tiger.”

    After missing three months and the year’s first two majors because of back surgery, Woods will make his return at next week’s Quicken Loans National. It will be his first competitive golf since the final round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, where he recorded the highest final-round score (78) of his career.

    “The golfing world needs Tiger Woods,” said Jason Day. “He’s made the golfing world -- and especially professional golf--– into what it is today. It’s great to have him back.”

    That was a common sentiment among a number of players. How Woods will perform once he does return, however, is anyone’s guess.

    In three starts on TOUR this year, he has made it to the end of Sunday just once, missing the 54-hole cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and withdrawing because of back spasms with five holes to play in the final round of The Honda Classic.

    The former world No. 1 finished 41st in Dubai in his only other start this season.

    Friday, Woods, who started taking full swings with all the clubs in his bag about a week ago, admitted that he will be “rusty” but wants to play his way back into “competitive shape.”

    “I’m just hoping that he doesn’t push it too early, too soon and re-injure himself,” said Day, who admitted that rushing back from his own thumb injury for the Masters earlier this year cost him a couple of weeks. “As long as he’s 100 percent healthy, it’s good for him to come back.

    “It’s good to get those competitive juices flowing again -- especially playing tournament golf. There’s nothing quite like tournament golf. He definitely needs to play a tournament before Royal Liverpool.”

    Woods has never missed three majors in a year and next month’s Open Championship will be played where Woods won in 2006.

    First, he'll take things "day-by-day" at Congressional, according to his coach, Sean Foley.  

    “No matter if he misses the cut, no matter if he just finishes middle of the pack, it’s a great thing for golf that he’s back,” said two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson. “It means he’s been rehabbing the right way and the doctors feel he’s good.”

    It’s also good news for the Quicken Loans National, which benefits Woods’ foundation. It’s also the first year for Quicken Loans as title sponsor of the event.

    “It’s a different feel,” Kevin Streelman said of when Woods is in tournament. “Obviously attendance is higher, excitement around the town is greater. It’s just great for golf. He’s a great ambassador, a great talent and everyone likes to watch him play.”

    That includes Watson. He’s not in the field for next week’s tournament but plans to turn on his television.

    “Normally I don’t watch golf,” Watson said. “But I’ll watch when Tiger’s playing.”

    So will a lot of other people.

    Tiger Woods announces return to PGA TOUR
    • Highlights

      Tiger Woods announces return to PGA TOUR

    Tiger Woods announces return to PGA TOUR
    • Highlights

      Tiger Woods announces return to PGA TOUR

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