Woods to play in Australian Masters

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Woods to play in Australian Masters

MELBOURNE - Tiger Woods has announced he will defend his Australian Masters title in November, a year after drawing huge crowds to his last event ahead of dramatic revelations over a series of extramarital affairs.

Woods will join Sergio Garcia, Camilo Villegas and 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy for the Nov. 11-14 tournament, where last year the world No. 1 recorded a two-shot win over Australia’s Greg Chalmers.

“I am pleased to be able to return to Melbourne to defend the JBWere Masters,” Woods said on his Web site (www.tigerwoods.com).

“The Australian galleries made last year’s event a great experience for all the players and I look forward to playing at The Victoria Golf Club in November.”

Last year, thousands of fans swamped Melbourne’s Kingston Heath, choking traffic and crowding every vantage point, with some spectators climbing trees to get a glimpse of their idol. It turned out to be Woods’ last tournament until the U.S. Masters in April, as a mysterious Nov. 27 car accident led to revelations of marital infidelity that prompted him to take a five-month break from the game.

He has struggled to reproduce his best form since his return, missing the cut at the PGA Tour’s Quail Hollow Championship, withdrawing from the Players Championship with neck pain and finishing tied 19th at the Memorial Tournament. Meanwhile Victoria’s state authorities defended the move to again use taxpayers’ money - about half of his $2.5 million fee, according to reports - to hire Woods despite his lurid sex scandal.

“We’re not the morality police here in Victoria,” events minister Tim Holding told public broadcaster ABC.

Woods’ appearance last year was estimated to have boosted the Australian economy by $28 million.

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