Just eight days after withdrawing from the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship because of tightness and pain in his left Achilles, Tiger Woods got back inside the ropes, this time in an exhibition event in central Florida on Monday.
Woods, showing no noticeable limp all day, carded six birdies during his 18 holes on the first day of the Tavistock Cup at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club playing with teammate Justin Rose. As a team they shot 9-under 63.
Woods birdied his first two holes and had four on the outward nine. He started his back nine in similar fashion after knocking his second shot at the par-4 10th hole to five feet, but picked up when Rose sank his birdie putt first. A hole later from a greenside bunker and under a tree, Woods pitched out to less than a foot for another birdie.
Following his round Monday, Woods said his early departure at Doral was "the smart thing and prudent thing" and that he didn't want to risk any more time on the IR because of injuries.
"That's what happened last year and I missed two major championships because of it," said Woods. "So I just want to be ready for Augusta, hence I'm out here having fun and all's going good.
"I have to do the right thing. Unfortunately there are times when, yeah, I have played through some things that I probably shouldn't of. That's cost me a little bit. I've been sidelined for months at a time because of it. For the first time I did the right thing. Hence, I'm back in a week, whereas ... I could have been out for a little bit longer."
The former world No. 1 is slated to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational starting Thursday at the Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando. That tournament has accounted for six of his 71 PGA Tour victories.
Woods sat out nearly four months last summer because of Achilles and knee issues. He started noticing some discomfort when he was warming up on the driving range before the final round at Doral on March 11. He said the pain shot into his calf, and he had difficulty getting loose.
"I've been down this road before, it's not a fun road, but this time I decided to do the prudent thing and not hurt it like I did the last time,'' Woods told "The Scott Van Pelt Show."
The "last time" for Woods was last year's Players Championship, where he returned after initially injuring his Achilles and left knee at the Masters about a month earlier.
Woods made it through just nine holes, withdrawing after a 42 on the front nine. He went on to miss the U.S. Open and British Open and did not return to competitive golf until August.
"I have to be smart and look at the big picture," Woods said Thursday. "The Masters is coming up. Last year, I was not prudent about pulling out when I should have and I missed two major championships."
Woods has not won an official tournament since late 2009 and the last of his 14 major titles came at the 2008 U.S. Open. He was making solid strides in his comeback from last year's injuries. He ended 2011 finishing third at the Australian Open and winning the Chevron World Challenge, which is not an official tour event.
This year, Woods started with a third-place tie in Abu Dhabi, followed by a tie for 15th at Pebble Beach and a second-round defeat at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. He tied for second at the Honda Classic, where he shot a career final-round best 62, and was in the top 20 at Doral before his withdrawal.
ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski and Bob Harig contributed to this report.