JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Tiger Woods is closer to competing again.
Woods is back home after a week of family counselling in Arizona and is trying to get back into a routine that includes fitness and his first significant practice in 15 weeks, a person with knowledge of his schedule said Tuesday.
Woods returned to his home near Orlando on Saturday and has been hitting balls on the range at Isleworth, not far from where he ran his SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree in a middle-of-the-night accident on Nov. 27 that set off shocking revelations of infidelity.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because only Woods is authorized to release such information, said golf's No. 1 player still has not decided when he will return to competition.
Woods was photographed hitting balls at Isleworth on Feb. 18, the day before he ended nearly three months of silence by speaking to a small group of associates at the TPC Sawgrass in a 13½-minute statement that was televised around the world. Those photos of Woods were arranged to counter the paparazzi trying to follow his every move since Thanksgiving.
Woods has not practised in earnest since winning the Australian Masters in Melbourne on Nov. 15 for his 82nd victory worldwide.
"I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don't know when that day will be," Woods said in his statement at Sawgrass. "I don't rule out that it will be this year."
Woods said he had attended inpatient therapy "for the issues I'm facing" for 45 days, from the end of December to early February. He said he was leaving the next day for more therapy, without saying what kind. The person who spoke to The Associated Press said he went to Arizona for a week of family and marriage counselling with his wife, Elin.
Woods said at Sawgrass of his infidelity, "As Elin pointed out to me, my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behaviour over time. We have a lot to discuss; however, what we say to each other will remain between the two of us."
News of him getting back into a routine is sure to begin speculation when he might return to the PGA Tour. Woods announced on Dec. 4 that he was taking an "indefinite break" to try to salvage his marriage.
To date, he has missed only two tournaments he typically would have played - Torrey Pines and the Match Play Championship - although he had been leaning toward playing Pebble Beach this year because it will host the U.S. Open in June.
Woods is not likely to play next week in the World Golf Championship at Doral, where he has won three times.
His next possibility on the PGA Tour is the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where he is the defending champion and a six-time winner. The Masters, which Woods has played every year since 1995, would follow. Augusta National officials have not indicated whether they expect Woods to compete.
"When he does come back, I hope it's in the Masters, and I hope he's in great form," Masters champion Angel Cabrera said Tuesday on a conference call.
The fallout from Woods' sex scandal has been immense. He already has had three sponsors drop him - Accenture, AT&T and, most recently, Gatorade - while other companies like Gillette have suspended promotions of Woods while he takes his break from golf.
When he does return, he will have a different logo on his golf bag, replacing AT&T, if he can find a deal.
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