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No problems between Tiger and caddie

Tiger faces period without regular caddie

Tiger Woods, who ended a PGA Tour title drought with victory at the Buick Invitational nine days ago, is likely to be without his regular caddie when he returns to action later this month.

New Zealander Steve Williams, bagman for Woods since early 1999, injured his hand in a racing car accident last Friday and is expected to need two months to make a full recovery.

Williams says he does not know when he will be able to rejoin the former world number one and Woods's manager was not prepared to give any detail on Tuesday.

"I'm afraid we're not making any comments on that at the moment," Mark Steinberg of the International Management Group told Reuters.

Williams, who needed surgery on his left hand after his modified saloon car overturned and struck a safety wall at the Baypark Speedway in Tauranga, phoned Woods at his Florida home on the day of the accident.

"When I called him, he (Woods) said, 'You sound a bit groggy'," Williams told reporters in New Zealand. "I said: 'That's because I'm lying in a hospital bed.'

"My hand's going to take a couple of months to heal properly, apparently," added the left-handed Williams.

Eight-times major winner Woods, who had to overcome weight loss and a heavy bout of flu before winning last month's Buick Invitational by three shots, could return to tour action at the Nissan Open starting on February 17.

"I might play Nissan, we'll see how it goes," said the 29-year-old after winning his first strokeplay title in the U.S. since the WGC-American Express Championship in October 2003.

"I need to get my weight back up and get healthy. I feel like I'm a little emaciated and I just need to get better."

Should Woods skip the Nissan, he will definitely return at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship which runs from February 23-27 at La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California.

Having recently completed the second revamp of his swing since he turned professional in 1996, Woods is looking forward to challenging for this year's majors.

"It's been a nice start (to 2005)," he said. "If I had played halfway decent at the (season-opening) Mercedes (Championships), I felt I could have won that tournament."

Woods had to settle for a share of third place in the PGA Tour opener held at the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii.

"There's no doubt about it, though. It is tougher to win out here now than when I first played in '96 and '97, and it's going to get tougher each and every year.

"The field is getting deeper. We have more guys playing well at the same time, but we don't always play the same events," added Woods, whose five-year reign as world number one was ended last September by Vijay Singh.

"Guys are going lower and lower and you just have to respond."

Woods 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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