Match play, Doral likely events for Tiger's return

(AP) — The uncertainty facing Tiger Woods at the start of the year is almost cleared up.

He is practicing at full strength with no restrictions, and playing golf at his home course in Florida. He became a father again when his wife gave birth to a boy on Sunday — Charlie Axel Woods.

The only thing left is when he returns to the PGA Tour.

The first possibility is the Accenture Match Play Championship, where he is the defending champion, which starts Feb. 25.

"I don't know what this affects," tournament director Wade Dunagan said Monday afternoon. "We're hopeful he'll make the Accenture Match Play Championship his first event back. The truth is, I don't know where we stand with that. It's one less obstacle, but he may want to stay home for another week now that the baby is born."

The CA Championship held its media day Monday across the country at Doral, where Woods is a three-time winner. That World Golf Championship starts two weeks after the Accenture, on March 12. Tournament director Eddie Carbone had answers to every question, except whether his All-Star field would include the biggest star in golf.

The tournament showed some of its public service announcements that will run in the Miami area, featuring the likes of Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Camilo Villegas. Woods was not in any of them.

For the moment, Woods has other priorities.

"Elin and I are thrilled to announce the birth of our son, Charlie Axel Woods," Woods wrote in a short statement on his Web site. "Both Charlie and Elin are doing great and we want to thank everyone for their sincere best wishes and kind thoughts. Sam is very excited to be a big sister and we feel truly blessed to have such a wonderful family."

Sam Alexis was born on the Monday after the 2007 U.S. Open, and Woods did not play for three weeks, even skipping a title defense the week before he returned at the Buick Open.

But he is not new to fatherhood any more. And even with a son, if Woods follows his own father's routine, it still will be another six months before he puts Charlie in a high chair to watch him swing a golf club.

"We look forward to introducing Charlie to you at the appropriate time," Woods wrote.

Woods likely won't be available to comment until he shows up at a tournament, so the significance of his son's name was not clear. His daughter's name — Sam — was the pet name that Earl Woods called a young Tiger.

Woods has great respect for Charlie Sifford, the first black to become a PGA Tour member; Sifford playfully refers to Woods as "my grandson." Axel is a Swedish name that means "father of peace," according to the Web site birthcare.com (his wife is Swedish).

But the big question remains the left knee.

"I'm full-bore with my practice sessions and have no restrictions," Woods said in a newsletter last week. "It's just a matter of getting my golf endurance up. I don't have my golf stamina back yet."

The date of birth is significant only because Woods always seems to celebrate on Sunday of the Buick Invitational, where he was the four-time defending champion.

Woods also won the U.S. Open last summer at Torrey Pines for his 14th career major, but that was the last time anyone saw him play. He had reconstructive surgery on his left knee a week later, ending his season.

Since then, Padraig Harrington won two majors, the Americans won the Ryder Cup, Woods' wife became pregnant, the economy went in the tank, Barack Obama was elected president and the Arizona Cardinals reached the Super Bowl.

Woods said last week that his return depends largely on the birth of his child, which "takes precedent over anything I do golf-wise."

"But I must admit, I am also excited about returning to competition," he said. "Early on, I didn't miss golf because I enjoyed staying home with Elin and Sam and I knew I wasn't physically able to play. The truth is, I would have embarrassed myself. Now, I'm getting my feel and practice back. It's just a matter of playing more on the course."

Now, it's a matter of which course.

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