The last time Tiger Woods injured his back, he was out of competition for more than three months. This time, the wait for his return barely lasted three days.
After appearing on Sunday to re-injure the back that required surgery in March, Woods showed up in Louisville and played nine holes in advance of the PGA Championship. Woods declared himself ready to go and claimed that the injury he suffered in the final round of last week’s Bridgestone Invitational occurred in a different part of his back than where he needed the surgery, which kept him out of action — including the Masters and the U.S. Open — from mid-March until late June.
From the Guardian:
Woods explained that Sunday’s problem, which occurred as he hit a shot from an awkward lie on the edge of a bunker on the 2nd hole at Akron, was caused when a bone in his lower back popped out. The issue was rectified by a physiotherapist, whom Woods has with him this week as a precaution.
“When I landed on the bunker, my sacrum went out,” Woods said. “So it pinched the nerve and hence the spasm. My physio put it back in and we’ve just been treating it. My physio is here. If it does go out [again], he is able to fix it.
“The treatments have been fantastic. Once he put it back in, the spasms went away, and from there I started getting some range of motion. It was a different pain than what I had been experiencing, so I knew it wasn’t the site of the surgery. It was different and obviously it was just the sacrum. I feel good. Once the bone is put back in, it’s all good. The inflammation has been down, I’ve had range of motion. I have got my speed, my power and I just need to obviously keep moving.”
This is, of course, terrific news, not just for Woods but for the the PGA Tour. Rory McIlroy is the favorite at this event, and has built quite a following, but no golfer is nearly as popular as Woods, both in the galleries and, more importantly, on television.
For his part, Woods expressed a belief that he can win this major, played at Valhalla, where Tiger has won before, although the course has been re-designed. Woods is seeking a 15th major title, bringing him a step closer to Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18. However, pga.com points out that Woods has even more motivation to play well this weekend:
He is hoping to convince U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson to make him a captain’s pick and is running out of chances to convince him.
If Tiger doesn’t play well enough to make the top 125 in the FedExCup standings and he doesn’t play next week at the Wyndham Championship, then his PGA TOUR season will be over, since he won’t be eligible for the FedExCup Playoffs.
Woods enters this week ranked 217th in the FedExCup standings, with 45 points. The projected total for the 125th player is 436 points, so Woods would need to win this week to exceed that level. A win at the PGA Championship is worth 600 points.
Woods is scheduled to tee off Thursday at 8:35 a.m. in a star-studded group that also includes Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington.