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WATFORD, England (Reuters) - Former world number one Luke Donald spoke with the benefit of experience on Tuesday when the Briton suggested Tiger Woods may have to simply grit his teeth and commit to a definite comeback date.
Fourteen-times major winner Woods, out for 14 months due to back-related issues, announced this week his game was not sharp enough for a return at the PGA Tour event in California starting on Thursday or at next month's Turkish Airlines Open.
Donald knows the psychological barrier the 40-year-old American has to overcome because the Englishman was sidelined for five months in 2008 after sustaining an injury to his left wrist.
"I'm not sure, when you take a break, if you're ever ready," the tournament host told a news conference ahead of this week's British Masters at The Grove.
"I think sometimes you want to dive in a little bit and get stuck in. It sounds like clinically he's fine, he's just not quite ready to tee it up from a mental standpoint perhaps."
Donald spent 56 weeks at the top of the rankings in four spells in 2011 and 2012 but has since slipped to number 69.
The 38-year-old showed flashes of his old self when he finished second at the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina in August and, after taking four weeks off following the conclusion of the FedExCup last month, he is raring to go at The Grove.
"I felt like I played a lot leading up to that and I needed a break," said the Florida-based Donald who in 2011 became the first player to win the European and American money-lists in the same season.
"I put my clubs away for a couple of weeks and I've worked on my game for a couple of weeks now getting ready for this week. I feel pretty refreshed and excited to get back to competition.
"I have more responsibility this week than I would have in a usual event but it's a very manageable amount so I can concentrate on my game."
The British Masters starts on Thursday.
Editing by Pritha Sarkar