On and off the golf course, Tiger Woods didn’t look anything like the player who only four days ago dropped to knees with back pain.
He took full, powerful swings with the driver at the TPC Boston in Norton, Mass., and he had no trouble gouging shots from the deep rough. He stooped over without hesitation to remove his tee from the ground or retrieve his golf ball from the cup.
Even more telling was the catch Sitting behind a table at his news conference Thursday, someone tossed Woods a bottle of water from about 25 feet away. The throw was a little wide. Woods instinctively twisted to his right and reached out his hand to grab it.
“The back has been ... it’s a lot better than obviously on Sunday,” Woods said at the Deutsche Bank Championship. “It was nice to have that extra day of rest. Having the tournament start on Friday certainly helps.
“And I’ve gotten treatment every day, two to three times a day. And it feels good.”
It was the third time this year Woods has shown physical discomfort on golf course. An elbow injury forced him to miss two tournaments in the early summer. He was grabbing his lower back in the final round of the PGA Championship. And then at The Barclays last week, after complaining of a stiff lower back from sleeping on a soft mattress in his hotel, Woods fell to his knees on the 13th hole after what he said was a back spasm on his second shot to a par 5.
His health figures to be a talking point at the Deutsche Bank Championship, at least until he gets to the 10th tree this morning to begin the tournament in the ultimate power grouping — Woods, British Open champion Phil Mickelson and Masters champion Adam Scott.
Even before he could hit his first tee shot in the pro-am, one of the amateurs asked him about his back.
“It’s fine,” Woods said.
The rest of the round was just like any other. There was no indication of injury.
Woods said he had planned to play nine holes, and then only chip and putt on the back nine as a precaution, just as he did last week at Liberty National.
“But it felt good, so I continued playing,” he said.
Woods said the treatment was similar to the strain in his left elbow two months ago — electric stimulation, ice, ultrasound and massage.
Still unclear was whether how much he would be able to practice before and after rounds. Woods said that would be “day to day.”
Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum shot an 8-under 64 to take a 1-stroke lead over Lexi Thompson after the first round of the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore. Phatlum, 23, had 10 birdies and two bogeys in her afternoon round.
Espen Kofstad of Norway closed his round with three consecutive birdies and an eagle, shooting a 7-under 64 that gave him a 2-stroke lead after the first day of the Wales Open in Newport, Wales.