Tiger Woods to play WGC event

DORAL, Fla. -- The back spasms that caused Tiger Woods to withdraw from the Honda Classic on Sunday will not keep him from teeing off Thursday in the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

But they are causing the world's No. 1 golfer to carefully consider how such issues will impact his career.

"I think we have to take a more global look at it, absolutely, because it comes and goes," Woods said Wednesday afternoon during a news conference at Trump National Doral. "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 [weights], whatever it may be, you have to make certain adjustments. We've done that throughout my entire career, and this is no different."

Woods, who has won 79 PGA Tour titles and 14 major championships in an 18-year pro career, was all smiles and upbeat during his media session. He said he received treatment the last three days and hit a few shots, though none farther than 60 yards Tuesday, and that he wouldn't be hitting any full shots Wednesday afternoon at Doral, where he has won four times but faces a new test after extensive renovations.

His withdrawal on Sunday after 13 holes at PGA National came after he experienced tightness in his back during warm-ups on the driving range. Woods said he hoped to play through it, that the issues sometimes go away. This time, they did not.

"I was telling Sam [his daughter] when I was walking off [Sunday] that, 'Hey, Daddy can handle pain,' but I just couldn't move out there," Woods said. "I got to a point where I couldn't twist. So trying to explain to your 6-year-old daughter why you quit is certainly a very interesting concept and topic."

It was the sixth time in Woods' professional career that he has withdrawn from a tournament, but the fourth in the past five years -- and each of the past four has been due to injury, three during the final round of a tournament. He left the Players Championship in 2010 due to issues with his upper back, played just nine holes at the 2011 Players Championship due to knee and Achilles injuries suffered a month earlier at the Masters; he subsequently missed two major championships.

And two years ago at Doral, he left after 12 holes of the final round due to Achilles issues. He returned two weeks later to win at Bay Hill.

Woods has had surgery on his left knee four times and famously won the 2008 U.S. Open despite a broken bone in that leg; season-ending knee surgery followed a few days later.

"I could deliver the club to however I wanted to on the golf ball; it was just going to hurt like hell afterward," Woods said of the difference between competing with the knee problems and back issues. "The ball is gone. This was different because it affects the downswing, follow-through, and it was getting so that I felt like I couldn't move."

Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, said his client is not attempting to play at Doral simply because it's a limited-field WGC event.

"He wouldn't be coming down here if he didn't intend to compete at the highest level," Steinberg said. "He intends to play and wants to play well."

Woods, 38, had similar back problems in August at the Barclays, where he fell to the ground after hitting an approach shot to the 13th hole. Woods finished the round and tied for second, but struggled throughout the rest of the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Although Woods said Wednesday that he was fine by the time of the Tour Championship, he didn't play a practice round that week and ended up tied for 22nd. He ended the year with a third-place finish at a European Tour event in Turkey and a runner-up finish at the World Challenge, then took six weeks off and has struggled in his three 2014 events.

Woods shot a third-round 79 at the Farmers Insurance Open and finished 80th; was tied for 41st at the Omega Dubai Classic; and last week, despite a third-round 65, was outside of the top 40 when he withdrew. That's just 10 competitive rounds this year.

But Woods said his practice time is far more important as he tries to prepare for next month's Masters, where he won the last of his four titles in 2005.

"I want to be strong and fit and healthy to be able to play that golf course and give it my best," he said. "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 plan so that I can compete and play and be ready and try and win my fifth [green] jacket."

Woods has not ruled out adding another tournament to the scheduled defense of his Arnold Palmer Invitational title in two weeks.

"I'd be surprised if he did, but it's something we talk about," Steinberg said. "He has basically played the same schedule leading up to the Masters for years."

Woods' No. 1 ranking is at stake this week at Doral, where Adam Scott could overtake him with a victory. He said all that is far from his mind as he tries to get healthy and compete. He also said there would be no hesitancy when he tees off in the first round with Scott and No. 3-ranked Henrik Stenson.

"No, my treatments have been fantastic, anti-inflamms and just a bunch of treatment," he said. "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."