DORAL, Fla. – The only tools Tiger Woods used Wednesday at Doral were a wedge, a putter and a gold pair of scissors.
Three days after he withdrew in the middle of the final round at the Honda Classic with lower back pain, Woods returned to work at the Cadillac Championship by saying he feels better after a few days of constant treatment, and that he was good enough to try to defend his title.
He didn’t play the new Blue Monster until the opening round today. Still being cautious about back spasms, Woods only walked 18 holes to chip, putt and study a course that is entirely different from the one where he has won four times.
As for the scissors?
That was for the ceremonial opening of the Tiger Woods Villa at Trump National Doral.
Woods playing Doral was not a big surprise. The last time he dealt with back spasms in the final round was at The Barclays last August (he tied for second), and he played the following week outside Boston.
Even so, it was the second time in 10 tournaments that Woods experienced back pain during a round. For a guy with four surgeries on his left knee, the focus has shifted to his lower back.
I think we have to take a more global look at it, absolutely, because it comes and goes, Woods said. We’ve got to make sure that we do preventative things to make sure that it doesn’t happen and adjust certain things, whether it’s swing, lifting, whatever it may be. You have to make certain adjustments. We’ve done that throughout my entire career, and this is no different.
The motivation for Woods is to complete 72 holes without injury.
It’s being fit for the Masters, his next chance to end a five-year drought in the majors.
It’s been a long couple days of just treatments nonstop, trying to get everything calmed down, he said. First of all, get all the inflammation out and from there, getting the firing sequence right again, getting everything firing in the proper sequence. And once we did that today, feels good.
Woods turned 38 last year, though health concerns are nothing new. He had the first of his four knee surgeries while at Stanford. He said he first experienced back pain in college.
I’ve had a knee injury, wrist injury, elbows, you name it. Now I’ve had back, neck. It’s the nature of repetitive sport, Woods said.