MIAMI (AFP) ― World No. 1 Tiger Woods will defend his World Golf Championships event at Doral after all as treatment this week helped ease back pain that forced him to quit a USPGA event last Sunday.
Woods will tee off on Thursday alongside Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and reigning Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia, who could dethrone Woods from atop the rankings with a victory at the $9 million Cadillac Championship.
“I feel better. I feel good,” Woods said Wednesday.
“It has been a long couple of days of just treatment non-stop, trying to get it to calm down and trying to get everything firing in the proper sequence. It feels good.”
|Tiger Woods. (USA TODAY-Yonhap)|
Woods withdrew from the U.S. PGA Tour Honda Classic in the final round with back spasms, the same injury that nagged him in last year’s U.S. PGA playoffs.
“It comes and goes,” he said. “I thought I could play through it. I couldn’t. Sometimes it gets better. Others, I just deal with it.”
Woods says everything he is doing is about preparing himself as well as possible for next month’s Masters at Augusta National, where he has won four times but not since 2005.
“I want to be strong and fit and healthy to play that golf course and give it my best,” Woods said. “We’re taking a really good look at it and trying to come up with a good plan to play that course and trying to win my fifth green jacket.”
Woods is bidding for his eighth Doral title, although he has not seen the course since developer Donald Trump’s revamp, and is set to defend his title at Bay Hill in two weeks in his last Masters tuneup.
He hinted that he likely will opt for more practice time rather than another event ahead of the Masters, trying to keep his touch on chipping and putting.
Woods, who has not driven the ball since Sunday, did not risk a practice round, opting instead to walk the course and just practice putts and chips to judge green speeds.
But Woods vows there will be no hesitation in his swing this week when he attacks the Blue Monster course.
“My treatments have been fantastic,” Woods said.
“It’s annoying to be poked and prodded all the time but it has gotten me to the point where I can do this and this week I will be able to hit full shots.”
Woods has withdrawn from four events in the past five years due to injury, three times in the final round, and says at 38 he simply does not recover as quickly as he did when he was younger.
“It’s the nature of a repetitive sport. We do the same motion. You have repetitive injuries,” Woods said.
“Most of my injuries are that. The nature of why we lift, why we work out, is to stay out here. I’ve learned as I get older that I don’t heal as fast, I don’t bounce back like I used to. It’s just not that way anymore.”
“Most of the stuff we do (in workouts) is all preventative stuff. It’s not what people might think it to be.”
Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record of 18 won by Jack Nicklaus, has not won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, which he won despite a broken leg that was less disruptive to him than back spasms.
“A bad back is something that is no joke,” Woods said.
“When I had my knee injuries it was always after impact. I can do my job and deliver the club. It’s just going to hurt like hell afterwards. I did that for years.
“But a back, with that motion, there are some things you just can’t do.
This affects downswing, backswing, follow through. I can handle pain but I just couldn’t move out there. I couldn’t twist.”