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Out of the Woods and into the Cadillac

Tiger feels ‘better’ and ‘good’ enough to play in Florida
Tiger Woods hasn’t hit a ball further than 60 yards since he withdrew from last weekend’s tournament with a back injury. “I feel better. I feel good,” said Woods, who has struggled to start the season but said he will play this weekend at the Cadillac Championship in Doral, Fla.

DORAL, Fla. – Tiger Woods is a go.

The world’s No. 1 player, who pulled out with five holes to play in the final round of last week’s Honda Classic because of back spasms and a lower back injury, said Wednesday at Trump National Doral that he will make his 10:39 a.m. tee time with Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson for Thursday’s first round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship.

“I feel better. I feel good,” Woods, the defending champion, said in a news conference before he went to see the revamped Blue Monster for the first time.

Woods, who said he hit just a few shots Tuesday since withdrawing Sunday – the longest shot he hit was 60 yards – planned to just walk the course and chip and putt. Woods said he “literally couldn’t twist anymore” before he walked off the Champions Course after 13 holes in the Honda Classic. He said it got to the point “where I’m going to be doing probably more harm than good.”

“It’s been a long couple days of treatment, non-stop, to get everything calmed down,” said Woods, who has won four times at Doral. “The back feels good.”

Woods, who has walked off a golf course before completing the round four times in the last five years, said “a bad back is no joke.”

“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,” said Woods, 38, who has dealt with Achilles, back, elbow, knee and neck problems throughout his years. “There are times watching my kids run around, I wish I could do that again. They just bounce right up, bruises and all, and they are gone in a day. It’s just not that way anymore. But you’ve just got to take a more global look at it sometimes and take a step back. We try to manage that all the time.”

The latest injury may have changed Woods’ thinking going forward and how he’ll deal with injuries. When asked if he has begun to worry about the long-term effects his back injuries will have on his body, Woods said he is.

“I think we have to take a more global look at it, yeah, absolutely, because it comes and goes,” Woods said about what he and his team of confidants will do in the future. “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.”

Woods is off to the worst start of his 18-year professional career. In his first start, he missed the 54-hole cut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where he’s won eight times. The next week he tied for 41st in the Dubai Desert Classic. Then he withdrew after 67 holes in the Honda Classic.

Barring injury, Woods will play four rounds this week because there is no cut. He also is scheduled to defend his title in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in two weeks. Seeing as he never has played the week before the Masters, the Arnold Palmer Invitational will be his last competitive tournament before he goes for his fifth green jacket in the first major of the season.

Woods said he is more concerned about being healthy enough to tackle Augusta National than he is with getting in enough competitive rounds of golf. He mentioned that before he won his 14th and last major on a broken leg, the 2008 U.S. Open, he didn’t play one competitive round for six weeks. He had knee surgery after the Masters that year.

“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,” Woods said. “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 weeks throughout my career.

“I’m still kind of constantly looking at (the Masters), 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.”

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