Woods employs President’s adviser to plan for return

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Tiger Woods has called in the former press secretary to President George W Bush to prepare him for his competitive comeback at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in less than two weeks’ time, it was reported last night.

Ari Flescher, who since working at the White House has assisted in repairing the steroid-wrecked image of the baseball slugger Mark McGwire, has had sessions with Woods at his Florida home. "They were in his living room this week going over a strategy how to handle Bay Hill," one source told the New York Post.

Since finishing rehab for sex addiction 12 days ago, Woods has been practising at Isleworth, the gated community where he lives. Last weekend he was joined by his coach, Hank Haney. The world No 1 is long odds-on to end his “indefinite break” – which came after revelations of multiple extra-marital affairs – at the unofficial Tavistock Cup a week on Monday.

That is a private exhibition match which takes place over two days at Isleworth. Apparently, Woods would then make the short journey to Bay Hill on the Wednesday to play his first official event in four months and from there go on to next month’s Masters.

Another theory being touted in golfing circles is that Woods would skip Bay Hill and head straight to Augusta, without a comeback tournament, but also without so nearly as intensive media questioning considering the strict restrictions the Masters applies to press numbers. Whatever, an imminent return now seems inevitable.

It is less than three weeks since Woods, in his first public appearance since the scandal broke in November, signified he could not even be certain he would return this year.