Day 'never had faith' in 2016 Woods comeback

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Jason Day never expected Tiger Woods to return to action this year, claiming the former world number one was inspired to bring forward his attempted comeback by Phil Mickelson.

Woods had last month flagged the Safeway Open, won by Brendan Steele in California on Sunday, as the event in which he would make his long-awaited return to the PGA Tour following multiple operations on a back problem.

But the 40-year-old then withdrew from the tournament, citing a "vulnerable game" that was not ready for the rigours of competition. 

According Day, who sits top of the rankings, Woods became more eager to play again after watching Mickelson's thrilling duel with Henrik Stenson for the Claret Jug at Royal Troon in July.

"I think he misses being out here, which is understandable because the competition is so addicting," Day was quoted as saying by the Golf Australia website.

"He saw Phil Mickelson playing well at the Open Championship and that got him going. But he knows he can't push it.

"I never really had any faith in him coming back this year. The state of his game, I'm not sure. His back is so sore. I think we'll see him sometime next year, but I'm not sure when."

Woods, who served as an assistant captain on the successful US Ryder Cup team at Hazeltine, has not played competitively since finishing tied for 10th at the Wyndham Championship in August 2015.