March 05, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Woods is playing this week's WGC-Cadillac Championship after back spasms forced him to withdraw last week. (Halleran/Getty Images)
DORAL, Fla. -- Three days after back spasms forced Tiger Woods to withdraw from the final round of The Honda Classic, Woods said his back "feels good" as he prepares to defend his title at this week's World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.
"I feel better; how about that," Woods said. "It's been a long couple days of just treatment nonstop."
It has also been a long stretch for Woods of late. Of his six withdrawals as a professional, four have come in the last five years. Translation: At 38 years old, there are a lot of miles on his body.
Woods' first brush with a back issue occurred in college and though it hasn't been a problem for most of his career, spasms have started to pop up more frequently.
At last year's Barclays, Woods fell to a knee after one shot in particular, but played through the pain to finish second.
Last week, he was 5 over on the day and well down the leaderboard when he pulled out with just five holes to play. With this week's tournament looming, and the Masters a month away, it was as much a precautionary measure as anything.
Following The Barclays, for example, Woods said his back didn't feel good again until the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola a month later.
"I've learned it as I've aged, I don't quite heal as fast as I used to," Woods said. "I just don't bounce back like I used to.
"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."
What is different, Woods says, is the nature of the injury.
Unlike the nature of his broken leg at the 2008 U.S. Open, back spasms can creep up during the backswing or follow through or both. They're also less predictable.
"It comes and goes," he said. "It starts pulling on certain parts and next thing you know, things start shutting down. I thought I could play through it, and evidently I couldn't.
"My leg was busted (at the U.S. Open). I could deliver the club to however I wanted to; it was just going to hurt like hell afterwards. The ball is gone, it's already left the face and the pain sets in. OK, fine. This was different because it affects downswing, follow through, and it was getting so tight that I felt like I couldn't move."
As a result, Woods has kept his practice routine light since last week's withdrawal, hitting nothing more than wedge shots along with chipping and putting.
The same was true as he headed out the door Wednesday to see the redesigned Trump National Doral for the first time.
"I'm just going to chip and putt and get a feel for how the grass is and if it's different from what it was the last time we played, green speeds, slopes," he said. "(Caddie) Joey (LaCava) has a couple books he wants me to take a look at on the place, and we are going to go from there."