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Garcia - Tiger will come back strongly

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Sergio Gacia on Tiger
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • World number 13 Sergio Garcia has been speaking about Tiger Woods' continued absence from golf
  • He believes world number one Woods will return to golf stronger than when he left the sport
  • Ian Poulter holed a 70-foot putt on the final green to earn a share of a one-stroke Abu Dhabi lead

(CNN) -- Ahead of this week's Abu Dhabi Championship, world number 13 Sergio Garcia has been speaking about Tiger Woods' continued absence from golf.

"The situation with Tiger is not good for golf," Garcia told CNN. "But I think he will come back strongly and I'm looking forward to his return. My feeling is that Tiger will be back in action before the Masters gets under way."

Spaniard Garcia is also aware that his opportunites for winning tournaments are greatly improved with Woods not in the field.

"The last time Tiger was off the scene it was because of injury and we knew the circumstances behind it. This time he might come back in two weeks or two months, nobody knows. At the end of the day, I have to concentrate on my own game and try to win as many tournaments as I can."

Meanwhile, Ian Poulter holed a mammoth 70-foot putt on the final green to earn a share of a one-stroke first-round lead in Abu Dhabi, after carding a bogey-free seven-under-par 65.

South African Keith Horne, who finished second last week in Johannesburg, and Briton Richard Bland matched Poulter's effort to top the leaderboard ahead of a group of nine on six-under-par, including Garcia and Rory McIlroy.

Garcia recovered from back-to-back early bogeys, while McIlroy blamed a "mental error" for a double-bogey, although he did respond in style with two consecutive birdies.

Former champion and last year's runner up Martin Kaymer dropped just one shot in a five-under 67 to share third with a bogey-free Louis Oosthuizen, the runner-up here 12 months ago.