Below-par Woods expects to return to action ‘very soon’

OFF HIS GAME: Tiger Woods.

OFF HIS GAME: Tiger Woods.

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Tiger Woods yesterday announced he will take an indefinite break from golf as he attempts to overcome his latest injury scare and poor form.

The 14-time major champion withdrew midway through his first round at last week’s Farmers Insurance Open in California due to back pain although he has allayed fears over the setback.

Of more pressing concern for the 39-year-old is his recent struggles on the course, with his injury coming six days after recording the worst round of his career – an 11-over-par 82 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“Right now, I need a lot of work on my game, and to still spend time with the people that are important to me,” said Woods in a statement on his official website yesterday.

“My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf.

“Like I’ve said, I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level, and when I think I’m ready, I’ll be back.”

While Woods does not feel his game is yet up to scratch, he hopes to be ready to play The Honda Classic, which gets under way on February 26.

“The Honda Classic is a tournament in my hometown and it’s important to me – but I won’t be there unless my game is tournament-ready,” added Woods.

“I do, however, expect to be playing again very soon.”

Michael Hoey, meanwhile, carded a course record 64 to lead the way at the True Thailand Classic.

The Northern Irishman notched eight birdies in a blemish-free round to sit one shot ahead of David Lipsky, Carlos Pigem and Hung Chien-yao.

The five-time European Tour title winner was understandably delighted after setting a new benchmark at the Black Mountain Golf Club.

“I’m very happy with that,” said Hoey. “I know the course is scoreable because there’s not a lot of rough, but the wind picks up and the last few holes were tricky (yesterday).

“It has been a long time since I had a bogey-free card. I was talking to my coaches recently about throwing in double bogeys too often, so to be bogey-free and have no fives on the card and a course record is a nice start.”

Lipsky, who will look back with regret on an eighth-hole bogey, completed the trio behind Hoey on seven under.

India’s Shiv Kapur is nicely poised just behind them on six under, while Englishman Matt Ford is one of eight in contention on five under after a round of 67.

Of the three Yorkshiremen at the event, Harrogate’s John Parry leads the way after a round of 71.

Simon Dyson, from Malton, is two further shots back, one ahead of Hull’s Richard Finch.

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