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Recharged Woods defends Williams axe

Tiger Woods with friend Bryon Bell, who will caddie for him at this week's Bridgestone Invitational tournament in Ohio.
Tiger Woods with friend Bryon Bell, who will caddie for him at this week's Bridgestone Invitational tournament in Ohio.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tiger Woods has no regrets over the decision to sack caddie Steve Williams
  • Woods is preparing to return to golf after nearly three months out with injury
  • Former world number one plays in the Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday
  • Woods' friend Bryon Bell will be his temporary caddie

(CNN) -- Tiger Woods returns to golf on Thursday insisting he is ready to win and has no regrets over firing his long-time caddie Steve Williams.

The former world number one has been out of action since May with a knee injury but is preparing to make his long-awaited comeback at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Thursday.

He will do so without Williams, who was on his bag for 13 of his 14 major wins.

Instead, friend Bryon Bell will be on caddie duty until Woods can find a full time replacement for the New Zealander, who reacted to the split by claiming he had "wasted two years of my life" while Woods was engulfed in a sex scandal and battled to find his best form.

"That's what he says and what he feels," Woods told a press conference. "I felt it was time for a change. I felt that Stevie and I have had an amazing run -- Stevie's an amazing caddie.

"He's helped my career, and I think I've helped his as well. We won a bunch of tournaments, but I just felt like it was time to change things up a little bit.

I've had some good practice sessions of late and just need to tee it up and do it on Thursday
--Tiger Woods
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"I feel comfortable with the move and I've got Bryon on the bag this week. Bryon and I go way back -- we're very comfortable on the course together. I don't have a permanent caddie, but we'll see going forward."

Woods said he had informed Williams of his decision during a "man-to-man" conversation after the AT&T National tournament in early July.

The 35-year-old said his new caddie would have to be someone who could handle the spotlight and revealed his vacancy had attracted plenty of applications -- not all of them desirable.

"Caddies out here [on tour] -- a few have applied. People who are not caddies out here -- a ton," Woods joked. "We've had a lot of ... interesting ones.

"[I'll be looking for] Someone that understands the game and can handle the pressure, of coming down the stretch on the back nine on Sunday. Someone who has been there before, can understand it and deal with that."

Woods claims the work he has put in with coach Sean Foley is starting to benefit his game as he prepares to swing his first club in anger since pulling out of the Players Championship on May 12.

He added: "I have been hitting more solid than I have in the past. Some of the things I'm working with Sean are starting to make sense. I can see what he's trying to get me to do.

"I've had some good practice sessions of late and just need to tee it up and do it on Thursday. I'm here to try and win a golf tournament. I'm just focused on that."