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Mickelson says golf needs Tiger back

World golf is sorely missing Tiger Woods and the sooner he is back the better, says Phil Mickelson, who is concerned about the impact on television ratings and fans.

The top-ranked Woods has not taken a full swing since his final playoff hole at last June's US Open, where he won his 14th Major despite leg pain to move within four of matching Jack Nicklaus's all-time career record.

Subsequent knee surgery has kept him on the sidelines, although he has said he is "very confident" of playing at next April's Masters.

Mickelson said his fellow American had done so much for golf that his absence had hurt the game.

"The reason why we all want Tiger back is because he drives the game of golf," said Mickelson, who plays the Singapore Open this week after losing his world number two ranking to Sergio Garcia in Shanghai on Monday.

"He drives television ratings, the sponsors need him in their events and the fans turn out to see him, so we need him back as soon as possible."

Mickelson added that Woods had broken through a barrier he thought would never be possible for a golfer—becoming the top athlete in the world.

"We're very lucky in the sport of golf to have the number one athlete in the world," he said.

"I never thought that would happen when I first came on tour, when we had some of the greatest players in history, whether it was Ben Hogan or Jack Nicklaus, nobody ever reached the status of the number one premier athlete in the world, and it's in golf.

"I never thought that was possible, so he does so much for us on a national level in the United States and on an international level throughout the world, and we all miss him and want him back soon."

While Woods is confident he will play next year's Masters, he has set no concrete timetable for his return with the situation complicated by his wife expecting their second child.

"Next year," Woods said when asked by ESPN last month when he will be swinging a club again.

"If I have six months off from surgery, that puts me into January, and another four months, that puts me at pretty much 10 months," he added. "That's a long time. I figure I can come back after 10 months.

November 11, 2008


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