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Steve Williams returns to caddie for Tiger

Tiger Woods will have Steve Williams on his bag for this week's Nissan Open in California, his regular caddie having recovered after injuring his hand in a racing car accident in New Zealand last month.

New Zealander Williams, bagman for Woods since early 1999, needed surgery on his left hand after his modified saloon car overturned and struck a safety fence at the Baypark Speedway in Tauranga on January 28.

"He recently had 48 stitches removed and said he's ready to go," former world number one Woods said on his official website on Monday. "He still has a little numbness in his ring and pinky (little) fingers, but he's a tough guy. If anyone can overcome an injury, it's Stevie."

Woods, who ended a PGA Tour title drought with victory at the Buick Invitational last month, is in confident mood for this week's event at Pacific Palisades.

"I would love to win at Riviera Country Club, where I've come close a couple times," said the 29-year-old American, refreshed after a three-week break from tournament golf.

"I played in my first pro event there when I was 16 and have great memories of the course.

"I played pretty well at the Buick Invitational, winning by three strokes. It wasn't perfect, but I hit a lot of good shots down the stretch and made most of the key putts.

"I feel good about the swing changes I have made with Hank Haney and I think my overall game has improved."

Woods has been working with Haney to complete the second revamp of his swing since he turned professional in 1996.

His victory at the Buick, where he had to overcome weight loss and a heavy bout of flu, earned him his first strokeplay title on Tour since the WGC-American Express Championship in October 2003.

"The other good news is that I was able to regain all the weight I lost prior to the Buick Invitational," added the eight-times major winner.

"I dropped about seven pounds from the flu and always seem to have trouble putting on weight.

"I have enjoyed my three weeks off, but it's time to go back to work this week.

"I honestly expect to play well and hope my game peaks at the (2005) major championships."

Woods, who no longer has the aura of dominance he enjoyed in 1999 and 2000, has not won a major since the 2002 U.S. Open, the same year he parted with his former swing coach Butch Harmon.


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