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Tiger at Valhalla - to Play this Week


Tiger Woods has arrived at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville for the 96th PGA Championship. After a practice round on the eve of golf's fourth major of the year, the 14-time major winner announced he was fit enough to play this week.

The four-time winner of the Wanamaker Trophy, who won his second PGA title in 2000 at Valhalla, hit some balls on the driving range and then played a practice round with Davis Love III, Steve Stricker and Harris English.

It was uncertain whether Woods would even be making the trek from his Florida home to Kentucky. After "jarring" his back on the second hole last Sunday, he pulled out six holes later in the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The incident happened when Woods jumped back into a bunker after executing a shot from an awkward stance.

He withdrew after completing eight holes at Firestone Country Club in Akron, citing lower back pain. Woods underwent microdiscectomy surgery on March 31 and was playing in just his 10th competitive round since rehabbing his back.

"I just jarred it, and it's been spasming ever since," said Woods then; he pulled out following his drive on the ninth hole. "It's just the whole lower back."

Observers saw Woods tee off on the first hole Wednesday afternoon and it appeared there was no apparent pain in either his drive or approach. He later told reporters that he was proceeding as scheduled for the PGA Championship.

Woods is paired in the first two rounds with Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington; they're slated to tee off the 10th hole Thursday at 8:35 a.m.

If Woods hadn't played this week it may be difficult for him to be picked for the 2014 American Ryder Cup team because of his inactivity. However, Tom Watson, the Ryder Cup captain for the U.S., can still select Woods - depending on his health - as one his three discretionary picks.

Love is one of Watson's assistant captains. Stricker, one of Woods' best friends on Tour, was appointed assistant captain Wednesday.

After his practice round, Woods sat down with reporters and discussed his back and the upcoming PGA Championship.

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, basically, when I landed on the bunker, my sacrum went out. So pinched the nerve and hence the spasm. My physio put it back in and we've just been treating it.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Say again, louder.

Q. Is there a danger associated with you playing this week?

TIGER WOODS: My physio is here. If it does go out, he's able to fix it. One of those things, again, I still need to build strength, still continue to get stronger. Just going to take more time.

Q. How do you feel like you played out there?

TIGER WOODS: I played all right. All right. Nothing great. It's only Wednesday.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: No, no. The treatments have been fantastic. Once the bone was put back in.

Q. When was that? On Sunday when we saw you, you looked in an awful lot of pain. How long was it before you had some sort of relief?

TIGER WOODS: Once he put it back in. The spasms went away, and from there I started getting some range of motion.

Q. Did you fear the worst when it happened on Sunday?

TIGER WOODS: It was a different pain than what I had been experiencing, so I knew it wasn't the site of the surgery. It was different and obviously it was just the sacrum.

Q. Tiger, what convinced you to try?

TIGER WOODS: Try what?

Q. To come and play?

TIGER WOODS: Oh, I feel good. Once the bone is put back in, it's all good. The inflammation has been down, I've had range of motion. As you saw out there, I got my speed, my power, and I just need to obviously keep moving.

Q. Are you definitely in for tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: What's that?

Q. Are you definitely in for tomorrow?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah.

Q. When did you decide?

TIGER WOODS: To?

Q. What time or when did you reach a decision that you were going to play?

TIGER WOODS: Probably yesterday afternoon. My range of motion was good. I started my firing sequence was back to normal the sequencing was good. If my sequencing is good then it's all good.

Q. How does it feel to be back?

TIGER WOODS: It feels great to be back here. The fans are enthusiastic. They're loud. They're into. It's a totally different golf course than what I played in 2000. These greens are all different. I have my book from 2000; it's useless. There's some new things that we have to learn out there. Joey has been here on the ground. He's got a pretty good handle on it. We'll run through some more of it as we go.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: It's not as I said, it's not the site of the surgery. This is something totally different. As I said when I landed, it jarred it and jarred it lose, made it come out. As I was explaining to you guys last week, I haven't been able to do my agility stuff because I'm still building back up, still playing. I can't do both at the same time. So when the season is over, in the off season, getting back to my agility work, my explosiveness, my power, all that stuff, back up to where I used to be.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Yes. Make every putt.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Say again.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Pain meds, no. I'm not in any pain. That is the good part.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Say again.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: I did I hit it in my hitting bag. So I was doing some video work, trying to make sure that my swing was where I wanted it and some of the things that I didn't like about it was going on last week. And I was able to basically make slow motion swings, make sure the what I was feeling and what was actually happening were matching up.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Say again.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I did. I felt pretty good about how I played and the shots I hit. I need to get more feel for how this golf course is playing. I'm not used to seeing the chipping areas like this. We didn't have that in 2000. It was just deep blue grass. That's a bit of a different look and different options. We're experimenting with some different clubs, shots. Trajectories, Strick and I were talking about how the bounce is actually pretty true. There's some different options which we weren't used to in 2000.

Q. And you're pain free?

TIGER WOODS: Pain free, yes, except for the headache of talking to you guys.

Q. After seeing the course today, do you have any regrets of not coming up a day or so earlier to get a few shots at it?

TIGER WOODS: I couldn't.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Say again.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, of course there is. Just don't jump in the bunkers.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you know, they played up in '08, during the Ryder Cup, it was a different look. I mean, from what I was told by the players, it was kind of through off some of the Europeans, they weren't expecting it. So now they are at that tee basically where they moved it up at. Now it's a par 4. But today I hit driver down there and also hit a 3 wood, as well. I hit 3 wood, 5 iron in that hole. Depends on how the wind is blowing, how it is out there, if it's hot. Like this ball is traveling, our 3 woods are going near 300 yards. One of those where you could chase them down there if you wanted to.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: Just play well. That's the only thing I can control. Try to go out there and win this event. That's all I'm focused on.

Q. (Inaudible)?

TIGER WOODS: You know, he didn't tell me. I just found out from Steiny. I guess he was focused on his game. I think it's great. It's fantastic. Because Strick is not only a good guy, he's also one of our peers. You have Tom, Raymond as well as Andy, who don't play out here anymore. Don't really know the guys. I think it's important to have someone who is out here on a regular basis, who knows the guys, knows their personalities, knows their games inside and out. I think that's well deserved. Also a pretty smart move as well.

Q. If we get any rain, how will that change the course?

TIGER WOODS: Quite a bit. Quite a bit. This golf course is firm in some spots. But, yeah, if we get some rain here, we're going to hit a lot of drivers. It's pretty wide open. The greens are soft enough where you can be pretty aggressive. You're going to see some pretty low scores.

Q. What are you going to do on the back nine?

TIGER WOODS: I'm going to walk it right now.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.