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Woods says he'll be ready for the Masters

Story highlights

  • Tiger Woods says he will play at next month's Masters at Augusta National
  • Fourteen-time major champion pulled out of PGA Tour event at weekend with Achilles strain
  • Italian Matteo Manassero makes the early running at the Andalucia Open in Spain with course record 64

Tiger Woods says he expects to play at the Masters next month despite pulling out of the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship last weekend with an Achilles tendon strain.

Speaking to ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday, the 14-time major winner said: "I'll be there, don't worry about it."

"I took a few days off. I will start hitting balls tomorrow. The stiffness is gone," the 36-year-old said.

Woods is aiming to play at the PGA Tour's Arnold Palmer Invitational in Bay Hill, Florida which starts next week as a final warm-up for the Masters -- the first major of the year -- which begins on April 5.

Earlier this week, Woods revealed via Twitter that the injury wasn't as bad as first feared.

"Got good news from doc (sic) tonight. Only mild strain of left Achilles. Can resume hitting balls late in week and hopeful for next week," Woods wrote Tuesday.

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Woods suffered a similar injury at last year's Masters -- hosted annually by Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia -- which eventually kept him out of action for over four months.

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Woods, a four-time Masters champion, hasn't won a major championship since his triumph at the U.S. Open in 2008.

Meanwhile in the opening round of the Andalucia Open in Spain, Eighteen-year-old Matteo Manassero boosted his chances of playing in the first major of the year as he shot a course record 64 on Thursday.

The Italian fired nine birdies and a bogey to finish on eight-under par, three shots ahead a clutch of players on five-under including Sweden's Niclas Fasth, England's Anthony Wall and Spain's Eduardo De La Riva.

Manassero claimed the first of his two European Tour titles in Spain in 2010 winning the Castello Masters in Castellon.

"This is quite similar to Castellon - a little bit more hilly maybe," Manassero said, European Tour reported.

"You need to put the ball in play and then do well around the greens. It's a course that suits me pretty well," he added.

The teenager, who beat current world No.1 Rory McIlroy at the Malaysian Open last year, is currently 63rd in golf's world rankings and needs to climb into the top 50 to guarantee an invite to Augusta National next month.

Manassero's only appearance at the Masters two years ago saw him finish a highly creditable 36th.