Tiger Woods' return can help Rory McIlroy at Masters - Paul McGinley

Tiger Woods in action at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last month
Woods carded an 11-over-par round of 82 in his first event of the year in January

Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley says the return of Tiger Woods at next month's Masters would divert attention from world number one Rory McIlroy.

Woods, taking an indefinite break to regain form, hopes to play at Augusta, while McIlroy needs the Masters to complete the set of major titles.

"At the US PGA last year, Rory was favourite but all the expectation focused on Tiger," McGinley said.

"Rory didn't sneak in the back door, but he was able to go about his business."

Woods, who won the last of his 14 majors in 2008, missed last year's Masters and US Open following back surgery.

He has made only two starts this season, carding the worst round of his career with an 82 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in January and managing only 11 holes before withdrawing at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines the following week.

Major milestones
McIlroy is bidding to join Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen in completing a career Grand Slam of golf's majors.
Woods remains the youngest to achieve the feat. He was 24 when he won The Open at St Andrews in 2000 to complete the set, three years after his maiden major win at the 1997 Masters.

Now ranked 87 in the world, the 39-year-old will again be absent from the PGA Tour this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, an event he has won eight times.

"There's no doubt Tiger has peaked in terms of when guys normally play their best golf," said McGinley, who guided Europe to the Ryder Cup last year.

"That doesn't mean he's finished, but certainly he is in the back nine of his career.

"I do hope Tiger comes back, we all hope Tiger comes back. I don't know if he will or not, we'll have to wait and see."

McIlroy, 25, who won his first major in 2011 at the US Open, captured The Open and the PGA Championship last year and has four major titles.

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