August 06, 2014
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- Tiger Woods heads to the range Wednesday at the PGA Championship. (Warren Little/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Tiger Woods arrived at Valhalla Golf Club early Wednesday afternoon in hopes of playing in this week's PGA Championship.
A few hours later, after finishing his practice round, Woods declared he is ready to tee off Thursday, just four days after withdrawing from Sunday's final round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational because of back spasms.
"I feel good," said Woods, who acknowleged that he actually decided to play the PGA on Tuesday afternoon once his "firing sequence was back to normal." Until his appearance Wednesday, however, there were no public announcements concerning Woods' status for this week.
After withdrawing Sunday, Woods flew home to South Florida on Sunday to receive treatment on his back. He'll now tee off Thursday at 8:35 a.m. alongside Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington.
On March 31, Woods underwent microdiscectomy surgery and missed more than three months before returning at the Quicken Loans National in July. He missed the cut at Congressional but said at the time he was pleased that he was able to return to action earlier than expected.
Woods' next start came at The Open Championship at Hoylake, where he struggled to a 69th-place finish with the highest total score of his career in that event.
Last week at Firestone, he said he tweaked his back while playing an awkward shot from the rough and landing in the bunker on the second hole. After hitting his tee shot on the ninth hole, he withdrew from the tournament and immediately left the course.
Provided Woods does play, he will be seeking his 15th career major and fifth PGA title at Valhalla. His best finish in six starts on the PGA TOUR this season was a tie for 25th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
But this week's major has additional ramifications for Tiger. 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.
Watson said Wednesday he was happy to see Woods show up at Valhalla.
"I am encouraged, yes," Watson said. "He said to me he really wants to make the team in the worst way. He wants to make the team."
But Watson also wants to see more from Tiger than just his presence on the first tee box Thursday.
"I can't tell you what's going to happen with Tiger," Watson said. "I don't know his physical condition right now. And I said right from the beginning, if he's playing well and he's in good health, I'll pick him.
"Obviously he's not in great health right now and he hasn't played very well. So the question is, will I pick him? Well, I can't tell until things happen in the next three or four weeks. Honestly can't answer this."
Steve Stricker, who is close with Tiger, was named an assistant captain for the U.S. team on Wednesday. Like Watson, Stricker is hoping to see some positive signs.
"We'll see how it plays out this week," Stricker said. "Hopefully he's healthier and he can get his game going, and like I said, get it going in the right direction and be a part of the team."