It's time for Tiger Woods to get back to work.

Woods, who spent the last two months recovering from knee surgery, will end the longest layoff of his career next week when he returns to the PGA Tour in San Diego.

"Things are progressing nicely, and I will officially enter the Buick Invitational on Thursday," Woods said on his Web site.

In a conference call last week, Woods reported no pain in his left knee. He played 18 holes for the first time Tuesday with his father and shot a 66.

"The real test comes next week at Torrey Pines," he said. "That's when I will find out how the knee holds up in competition and what, if any, effect walking the course has on it."

The Buick Invitational is a good spot for him to return.

Along with having an endorsement deal with Buick, Woods won the tournament in 1999 and has never finished worse than fifth.

Plus, it will give him a chance to visit with Phil Mickelson, one of his chief rivals who caused a buzz this week by saying Woods has "inferior" clubs and is the only player "good enough to overcome the equipment he's stuck with."

Mickelson later said his comments to Golf Magazine were taken out of context and that he meant to explain Woods's talent.

"I heard it was said in fun and jest, but until I talk to him, I really don't know," Woods said. "Quite frankly, questioning my equipment is foolish. I'm not going to play with anything that is going to hold me back. My career will be judged on how much I've won."


Justice Retires

Two-time all-star David Justice announced his retirement, saying he has a "diminished desire to play."

Justice, 36, hit .266 with 11 homers and 49 RBI for the Oakland Athletics last year but had yet to sign with a team for the upcoming season.

A 14-year major league veteran, Justice appeared in four World Series and was a regular in postseason play. Beginning in 1991, he appeared in the playoffs in all but one season, excluding the strike-shortened 1994 campaign.

"Fourteen seasons is enough," the outfielder told ESPN Radio. . . .

The Montreal Expos renewed their one-year lease at Olympic Stadium for the upcoming baseball season. The Expos, owned by the 29 major league teams and up for sale, will play 59 of their 81 home games in Montreal and the remaining 22 home games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. . . .

The home stadium of the San Francisco Giants will keep the name Pacific Bell Park this season, even though Pacific Bell is now SBC Communications Inc. SBC eventually would like to see the name on the park change.


Raye Gets Promotion

The New York Jets promoted Jimmy Raye to assistant head coach/senior offensive assistant.

Raye joined the Jets as a senior offensive assistant last season. He was hired away from the Redskins, where he was their offensive coordinator in 2001. . . .

Jim North, who played one season with the Redskins in 1944 and went on the become a nationally competitive amateur golfer, has died. He was 83.

North died of cardiac complications at a hospital in suburban Seattle.


Calhoun Has Surgery

Connecticut men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun had his cancerous prostate removed, and a full recovery is expected.

The 60-year-old coach will be released from the hospital this weekend and will be able to resume coaching in three to four weeks, Peter Albertsen said.

Albertsen, Calhoun's urologist, said there were no problems during surgery at John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington, Conn.

"Coach Calhoun's cancer appears to be confined to his prostate," Albertsen said.


International Feel

The Washington Freedom announced the signing of Australian national team forward Kelly Golebiowski and identified German defender Sandra Minnert, a veteran of two Women's World Cups, as the second international player the team will acquire this year.

Minnert, 29, plays for the FFC Frankfurt club that produced Freedom midfielder Steffi Jones and has scored seven goals in 88 games for Germany. She likely will not arrive in Washington until the conclusion of Frankfurt's season in June.

Golebiowski, 21, has played for Australia since she was 14 years old and has scored seven goals in her last 12 appearances. She tallied all three assists as a guest player in Washington's 3-2 exhibition defeat of the Atlanta Beat in October.

Minnert's signing, and the waiver draft the WUSA hoped to conduct next week, will take place after the league's first collective bargaining agreement is finalized.

Horse Racing

Without Vindication

Vindication, the unbeaten 2-year-old champion and winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, strained a ligament in his left front leg and will miss the Kentucky Derby and the other Triple Crown races.

Trained by Bob Baffert, the son of Seattle Slew was the early favorite for the Derby on May 3 after winning all four of his starts.

"The real test comes next week at Torrey Pines," says Tiger Woods, who is coming off a two-month layoff after surgery on his left knee.