Tiger’s back…is good to go for this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour
Tiger is feeling better.
Tiger Woods withdrew after 13 holes at PGA National during the final round of the Honda Classic last Sunday, citing lower back spasms. But, just a few days later at the newly-renovated Trump National Doral, he was smiling and seemed in good spirits in his pre-tournament press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Whether or not Woods would play this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship was uncertain, but he will indeed make his third start of the PGA Tour season on Thursday. Here are highlights from his presser…

*On the state of his health: “I feel better; how about that.  I feel good.  It’s been a long couple days of just treatment nonstop, trying to get everything calmed down, 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.”

*On whether his workouts have resulted in his injury: “Well, the muscle stuff we do is all preventative stuff. I used to be bigger than I am now.  I’m actually much smaller than I used to be.  So it’s not what people might think it to be; put it that way.”

*On his injuries over the years: “Obviously that’s been constant throughout my years working with my team, ever since I turned pro, is what can we do to make sure I have a long career.

“Unfortunately there are times where I’ve damaged my knee pretty good and I’ve had surgeries over the years.  I’ve had knee injury, wrist injury, elbows, you name it, now I’ve had back, neck.  It is what it is.  It’s the nature of repetitive sport.

“We do the same motion.  Some guys do it a thousand times a day, but it’s the same exact motion.  So you have repetitive injuries and most of my injuries are that.  So that’s the nature of why we lift, why we work out is to try to prevent a lot of these things and keep us healthy and keep us out here.

“As we get older, and I’ve learned it as I’ve aged, I don’t quite heal as fast as I used to.  I just don’t bounce back like I used to.  That’s just part of aging.  There’s times that  watching my kids run around; I wish I could do that again.  They just bounce right up, bruises and they are gone in a day.  It’s just not that way anymore.”

*On his indomitable will to win and whether it’s changed since he’s had kids: “The will to win hasn’t changed.   It’s physically, am I able to do it.  There are times when I’ve learned this through the injuries that I’ve had.  A bad back is something that is no joke.

“When I had my injuries over the years, it was always after impact.  So it’s fine; the ball’s gone.  It’s going to hurt like hell, but the ball’s gone.  So I can do my job and deliver the club and deliver the final moment to the ball and hit the shot I want to hit.  It’s just going to hurt like hell afterwards.  I played that way for years.

“But with the back, it’s a totally different deal.  There are certain moments, certain movements you just can’t do.  That’s one of the things I’ve started to learn about this type of injury; it’s very different.

“You’ve just got to take a more global look at it sometimes and take a step back.  You know, we try to manage that all the time.”

*On whether he’s concerned with his preparation for the Masters: “I’m still kind of constantly looking at that, looking at managing myself through there and making sure everything’s good.  I want to be strong and fit and healthy to be able to play that golf course and give it my best.

“So looking at scheduling and practice sessions and training and all that stuff, we have taken a really good look at it and really tried to come up with a good plan so that I can compete and play and be ready and try and win my fifth jacket.”

*On how much being no. 1 in the world means to him: “You know, it feels good, because you have to earn it.  You have to win golf tournaments to get there.  And you have to be pretty consistent.

“I have won, what, eight times in the last couple years to get back there, and that wasn’t an easy task, especially coming from outside the Top 50 to be able to come back from that and get to where I’m at is something I’m very proud of.  A lot of you in here have wrote me off, that I would never come back (smiling) but here I am.”

*On his plans for the afternoon after his arrival to Doral: “I’ve got no idea about what that golf course holds out there except for what is on video, that’s it.  Joey came down here and tried to describe some of the holes and I’m like, ‘What, there’s water on that hole?’  Yeah.

“So there are a few changes I need to go see.  So as soon as I’m done with you guys, I’m going to go out there and walk the course and try to get a good feel for how the sand is.

“I’m not going to play.  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.  Joey has a couple books he wants me to take a look at on the place, and we are going to go from there.”

*On whether he’s touched a club since Sunday: “I hit some balls yesterday.  Furthest ball I hit I think was 60 yards, just trying to make sure I keep my feels. So I chipped and putted for a while, just making sure I had my feels in my hands and I didn’t lose that over the last couple days.”

*On what’s more important leading up to the Masters — playing competitive tournament golf or being healthy enough to work on his game and practice away from tournament sites:  “No. 2.  I’ve done it where I think it’s just trying to be fit enough to be able to do that.

“When I came back from the surgery that I had in ’08 after the Masters and I came back and I didn’t play a tournament until the U.S. Open, I putted and chipped all the time, but I didn’t really play.  I didn’t play my competitive golf and I was still able to win in The Open.

“But I think it’s more important to keep my feels and making sure I can have my own feels I can call upon, and that comes from practice.  I didn’t hit a lot of balls back then because my leg was busted, but I chipped and putted a ton.  And so I still kept the feels in my hands and I think that’s what saved me that week, that particular week, and has saved me in a bunch of week throughout my career.”

*On when he first had an issue with his back: “I had my first back issue in college actually.  I had a back and shoulder and elbow and a wrist.”

*On whether he sensed his back was going to flare up before his warm-up on Sunday: “No, actually when I was warming up, it was tight.  Wouldn’t loosen up.  The fascia gets tight and starts pulling on different parts of the body and it’s like Cellophane; that’s what fascia is.  It starts pulling on certain parts and next thing you know, things start shutting down.  And I’m like, I don’t need this to shut down now.  I thought I could play through it, and evidently I couldn’t.”

*On whether he thinks it’ll go away: “Sometimes it does.  Sometimes we are able to self=adjust when we are out there and it just will feel better.  Other times, you’ve just got to just deal with it.”

*On whether he’s concerned he feel hesitancy with any swings when he’s playing tournament golf on Thursday: “No.  My treatments have been fantastic, anti-inflamms and just a bunch of treatment  it’s annoying being poked and prodded all the time, but it’s got me to a point where I can do this today, and tomorrow I’ll be able to hit more full shots and go all out.”

*On what his strategy will be since there are so many new holes he hasn’t seen yet: “We are going to have to figure that out right now.  So I’m going to go out there right now and take a look at it and figure out what a game plan is.  Certain holes, they are completely different holes.  Other holes are virtually the same.

“Obviously with a few tweaks, bunkers moved, a little longer positions, do we need to hit driver, do we need to layup short.  Joey and I were working through the book yesterday and come up with kind of a general plan about how we might attack the golf course, but we need to get out here  I need to get out here and see it and see what it’s going to be like; and check the forecast, too, what that’s going to be like and where the wind is going to be coming from and try to figure out what we need to do.”

*On the difference between the pain he felt winning the U.S. Open on a broken leg and the back problem he’s dealing with now: “It’s totally different, as I was explaining, it’s after impact.  So my leg was busted.  I could deliver the club to however I wanted to on the golf ball.  It was just going to hurt like hell afterwards.  The ball is gone; it’s already left the face and the pain sets in; okay, fine.  This was different because it effects downswing, follow through, and it was getting so tight that I felt like I couldn’t move.

“So I was telling Sam when I was walking off that, ‘Hey, Daddy can handle pain,’ but I just couldn’t move out there.  I got to a point where I couldn’t twist.  Try and explain to your six-year-old daughter why you quit is certainly a very interesting concept and topic.”

*On whether it was because of the Masters that he pulled out of the Honda Classic last Sunday: “I just couldn’t twist.  I literally couldn’t twist anymore.  To get the club back, if you watch a couple of the swings towards the end, I was just dumping it towards the top to try to get my momentum so I could hit the ball. I said, this is absurd, I’m going to be hitting it a hundred yards either way right now; I don’t know which one is coming.  Like on the third hole, I hit it a hundred yards right of the way and on 6 I hit it 50 yards left of the fairway.  I don’t know what’s coming, and it’s to a point where I’m going to be doing probably more harm than good.”

*On how frustrating it was to shoot 65 last Saturday and then have to withdraw the following day: “It was very frustrating, there’s no doubt about that, not being able to compete and play, and who knows, if I would have shot a good round here on Sunday, could have stolen one there.  Looking at it, I had an opportunity there to basically steal a tournament, and not being able to finish it makes it even more frustrating.”

(Getty Images/Scott Halleran)