NOT good enough – based on world rankings – to be involved in next week’s WGC-Cadillac Match Play in San Francisco, Tiger Woods has revealed his first outing since making a much-publicised return at the Masters will be in The Players’ Championship in a fortnight’s time.
Whether we like it or not – and there certainly isn’t the same hysteria surrounding Rory McIlroy’s schedule despite being the current world No 1 and more than 100 spots higher than the man who held that position for so long – Woods’ tournament commitments still generate attention and interest., Even more so than ever, perhaps, on the back of the injury problems that have bedevilled the 14-times major winner over the past year or so, when his appearances have been few and far between., Make no mistake, the presence of Woods at Augusta National a fortnight ago was by far the biggest news story at the beginning of the week, certainly in the United States, and his progress during the season’s opening major attracted close scrutiny., In the main, it proved a heartening return for the 39-year-old. For the first three days at the Masters, he performed much better than many had expected given that chipping yips had crept into a deteriorating all-round game. It was only in the last round that he played poorly, suffering an injury scare as he hurt his wrist after striking a root while hitting his approach at the ninth., Having worked his socks off to get his game in shape for Augusta, Woods announced on finishing that he was “ready for a break”, but the guessing game is now over as to where his next outing might be., It will be his first appearance at TPC Sawgrass since winning there in 2013, when he finished two shots ahead of Kevin Streelman, David Lingmerth and Jeff Maggert. He also won in 2001, finishing one shot ahead of Vijay Singh on that occasion. It was also at TPC Sawgrass that Woods claimed the 1994 US Amateur, so it’s a place with lots of good memories., His focus, of course, will already have turned to the US Open at Chambers Bay in June, and, according to host Jack Nicklaus, Woods will warm up for that by playing in the Memorial Tournament the previous week., As Woods attempts to get back to winning ways, Richie Ramsay has been rewarded for his recent European Tour triumph and is heading into the week with the scent of victory in his nostrils once more. Dealing with his Trophee Hassan II success first, it has earned the Aberdonian the Hilton European Tour Golfer of the Month award for March, voted for by a panel that met in Edinburgh., “I’m delighted,” said Ramsay, who pipped South African duo George Coetzee and Trevor Fisher Jnr, as well as Englishman Andy Sullivan, for the first award under a new sponsorship with the global hotel chain., “I was thrilled to win in Morocco after a difficult run of form so far this season, so to hold off the challenge of a top quality field on a difficult final day, and to play like I did to take the title, was fantastic., “It had been a little while since I last won in Switzerland, so to get back into the winners’ circle was great and I’m now looking forward to what the rest of the season holds.”, He has wasted no time, either, in proving that by getting into the mix heading into the final two rounds of the Volvo China Open in Shanghai, where a four-under-par 68 in the second round lifted the Edinburgh-based player into joint tenth., He is just four off the lead, held by Frenchman Julien Quesne, who tacked a 67 on to his opening 69 to hold a one-shot cushion at the halfway stage over compatriot and defending champion Alexander Levy and American Peter Uihlein., Sitting pretty after his first-round 70, Craig Lee dropped 34 spots after a 75 to sit alongside David Drysdale (69) in joint 41st. Scott Jamieson, Paul Lawrie and Chris Doak all made early exits., Elsewhere, Elliot Saltman’s hopes of winning the Challenge de Madrid suffered a severe dent as he finished the third round with a quadruple-bogey 9. Four off the lead prior to that, it dropped him to a share of fifth standing on the tee to joint 20th after signing for a 70., After matching rounds of 66, Peter Whiteford and Andrew McArthur sit a shot ahead of Saltman, who has Ross Kellett (71) alongside him on eight-under – eight behind the joint leaders, Irishman Ruadhri McGhee and Spaniard Nacho Elvira., On the LPGA Tour, Catriona Matthew headed into the second round of the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic seven behind leader Lydia Ko after an opening 74 in San Francisco.