April 4, 2015 / 2:56 AM / 4 years ago

Mickelson not surprised Woods will play Masters

PGA golfer Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the first hole to start his first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. Mandatory Credit: David Wallace-Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Phil Mickelson is not surprised Tiger Woods has decided to play in next week’s Masters and expects the former world number one to have fixed the issues with his short game.

Woods ended weeks of speculation on Friday when he announced he would contest the first major of the year, a tournament he has won four times.

Woods, whose ranking has plummeted to 104th, has battled back problems and struggled badly for form this season, playing just twice on the PGA Tour.

“That’s a tough tournament to miss,” three-time Masters champion Mickelson told reporters at the Houston Open on Friday.

“The Masters is the tournament we dream of as a kid. I just don’t think anyone would miss it if they were physically able to play.”

Mickelson added that he expected Woods to have a precise short game at Augusta National when the first round begins on April 9.

“He’s had such a good short game, such a great game throughout his career. I think it’s going to be an easy fix. I think his game is going to be sharp.”

Former PGA Tour player and analyst Curt Byrum said Augusta would be a proving ground for Woods’ short game.

“We’re going to find out really quickly if he’s solved his pitching and chipping problems because there’s not a tougher place on the planet to chip and pitch the ball than Augusta National,” he said.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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