Back issues creep up on Tiger

DUBLIN, Ohio – Tiger Woods' back troubles flared up again Sunday at the Presidents Cup, as he winced in obvious pain after hitting a shot late in his singles match.

Woods favored his lower back from the 15th hole on at Muirfield Village Golf Club, where his 1-up victory over South Africa's Richard Sterne clinched a fifth straight victory in the event for the United States.

"It's been a long week for all of us," said Woods, who had the best record on either side, going 4-1 against the International team. "I think a few of us are a little bit dinged up and our physios did a hell of a job this week getting us out there and keeping us going.

"And especially with all the start and stops, as many holes ... I've never played three matches in a day before, so that was certainly a first [Saturday]. It's been a long week, I'm a little sore, and I'm certainly looking forward to not touching a club for a while."

Weather delays plagued the event, and Woods took part in three formats Saturday, one of which had to be completed Sunday morning before singles.

Woods, who won five times on the PGA Tour this season and is ranked No. 1 in the world, has experienced back stiffness and spasms in the last two months. He first acknowledged some issues after the final round of the PGA Championship, then was in clear pain in late August at the Barclays, where he fell to his knees after hitting a shot during the final round. Woods said he had issues with a bad hotel room mattress earlier that week.

Woods again experienced some problems at the BMW Championship, and he skipped practicing prior to The Tour Championship, where he finished 22nd two weeks ago.

Nonetheless, Woods was strong at the Presidents Cup, where he teamed with Matt Kuchar to go 3-1.

Sunday was his worst day, as Woods managed just two birdies, none on the back nine, but was still able to hold off Sterne in singles.

"I was at a point where I wasn't feeling my best coming down the stretch," Woods said. "I happened to get a 1-up lead. I was just trying to hang on to that. Probably was I knew I wasn't feeling that good and if I happened to mess up 18 and we had to continue playing [sudden death] until it was decided ... I was really like, I don't want to play anymore. Can I just halve this last hole somehow, and it ended up being that way."

The victory gave Woods a 24-15-1 overall record in eight Presidents Cup appearances. The U.S. is 6-1-1 in those events.

Woods now has more than a month before his next official competition. He is scheduled to take on Rory McIlroy on Oct. 28, in a one-day exhibition in China. The following week he is scheduled to play in the European Tour's Turkish Airlines Open. His last event of the year is one that supports his foundation, the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge in early December.