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Tiger Ready to Go at Bay Hill
After surviving a scare to his left Achilles heel two weeks ago, which caused him to withdraw midway through the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, Tiger Woods seems to have suffered no long-term ill effects from what was later determined to be a strain.
Indeed, he played Monday and Tuesday in the annual Tavistock Cup, a fundraising event involving four private clubs, and returns to regular action in this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational. The $6 million PGA Tour event starts Thursday at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando.
On Wednesday, Woods - a six-time winner of the tournament - met with reporters and discussed the state of his game and his health. Here's what he had to say.
MODERATOR: Tiger, if you want to start off, make some comments on coming back to the Arnold Palmer Invitational. And we'll have a few questions.
TIGER WOODS: Great to be back. I haven't played the golf course since last year's tournament, and it's in good shape this year. I think that with no wind, I think you might see some pretty good scores out here. The ball is going far because it is warm, and greens are rolling pretty good out there.
Q. Wanted to ask you a quick question about your Achilles; do you know what caused it to tighten Sunday morning at Doral and is there any concern that it could happen again?
TIGER WOODS: It was just tight when I was warming up. And I did my normal warm-up routine in the gym and everything, and everything was fine. I got to the range, started warming up, started getting tight. And you know, as I said before, I've been through this before. I recognize the signs.
Q. Is there any concern it could happen again without warning?
TIGER WOODS: It could. But hopefully it won't.
Q. Have you gone through that at all since you came back at the Fry's? Have you had any tightness to that degree, and do you just work through it those other times - you loosen up and it goes away?
TIGER WOODS: I've had tightness before, but not that to extent. But treatment afterwards always gets to right back to where it should be. And that's one of the reasons why I wasn't really that concerned about it; that I would come back and play these events, because when it gets that tight, treatment for two or three days, it's all fine, all the swelling goes way and I'm good to go.
Q. Was there any thought about pulling out before the round Sunday?
TIGER WOODS: No, it progressively gets worse, that's one of the downsides to is that the more active I am, the more swelling. So I'm going to have to just kind of monitor it and it's all good.
Q. Two things. If you can just explain, we were out there, what happened 6 tee?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I guess one of the so called professional golfers took a picture right in the middle of my downswing. I stopped it, and then felt a pretty good twinge in my back. Walked it off and then tried to hit one down there, hit it in the fairway, but didn't feel very good. But after a couple of holes it loosened up and I'm good to go now.
Q. How do you balance the need to develop your confidence with the caution that might be natural to that given how your body has reacted in the recent past?
TIGER WOODS: You know, it's one of those things where just continue training, continue preparing, and just kind of monitor things a little bit more than I used to. Because I used to be able to just kind of play through it. But then again, that's also set me back and one of the reasons why I had surgeries is that I would ignore those and just kind of play through it. I had success, but the problem is, it was also detriment at the same time physically.
Q. How confident are you that you are physically sound, to the degree that you can know?
TIGER WOODS: I feel great and that's the nice thing about getting treatment for three days, just getting off of it and just working on it two or three times a day, and good to go.
Q. Are you resigned to pretty much at this stage in your life having to dal with that Achilles or both Achilles, the knee, the weakness in it? Do you wake up and go, cross my fingers, let's get through the day, or is it more of it comes more sporadically, like out of the blue it will show up?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think as we all know as we age -
Q. Not me.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you look great. (Laughter). The hair's all black. That's just the nature of things. Just kind of monitor things. I've changed my practice routine based on that, if things aren't feeling right, I just won't hit balls for four or five hours. I'll go work on something else.
Q. How about running and in the gym and stuff, do you have to just not go, or change your schedule that dramatically and say, I'm not going to run today or tomorrow, because I don't want to
TIGER WOODS: You've got to work around it, and sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. You're working different body parts and you can still get the CV up to where you want to. You don't always have to pound the payment for that long. You can do it a different way, work on other body parts and make sure they are strong and supple and explosive.
Q. You say you feel great, what would you gauge your health at right now, back to where you were before the Achilles got tight or are you still 75, 80 percent?
TIGER WOODS: Definitely right before, there's no doubt, and I feel really good now and that's just because of treatment, I've had some good therapists on board and they have done some really good work.
Q. Also, would you think the Masters coming up, knowing your experience there, four wins there, limited field, do you think that's your best chance to get back with a major win?
TIGER WOODS: Well, considering it's the first major, yes. (Laughter).
Q. You lived in Orlando a long time and you no longer live here; do you miss it at all? Do you still have your Magic seats and what do you think of Dwight Howard re upping?
TIGER WOODS: Which one you want me to answer?
Q. All of 'em.
TIGER WOODS: Okay. What was the first one?
Q. Do you miss Orlando, living here.
TIGER WOODS: I miss my friends here, yes. But I love living where I live now. I'm on the ocean. I smell the ocean each and every day I walk out of my house, and the beach is just absolutely gorgeous there. Second part?
Q. Do you still have your Magic seats and what do you think about Dwight Howard?
TIGER WOODS: No, I don't have them. Dwight thought that was probably the best decision for he and his family, and that's what you have to do.
Q. Is the tightness at Doral something that several years ago you might have played through?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I did play through it and that's one of the reasons why things happened, why I missed tournaments and why I missed majors, just look at last year. I played through those type of things. And you know, just trying not to miss tournaments; and it's hard. It's really hard, because I want to compete, I want to be out there, sometimes by competing and doing what I did I cost myself a bunch of tournaments I could have played.
Q. So you have to listen to those warning signs more now than you did in the past?
TIGER WOODS: In 2008, I missed two championships, two major, missed the whole year basically - sorry, three majors. And then last year I missed two. So got to be a little more cautious about those type of things.
Q. How much do you expect to get out of this week physically given that obviously you've played the last two days, Pro Am today, potentially four rounds coming up; that's seven rounds in seven days. Will that tell you an awful lot by the end of it?
TIGER WOODS: Well, actually it's going to be eight rounds, you guys don't know, I played Augusta on Sunday. That's one of the reasons why I played Tavistock; it felt great at Augusta, and that was the test. I played Tavistock because of that test, and here I am ready to go.
Q. Couple questions, are you having issues with distance control, and if so, what causes it?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I do. I'm hitting the ball flush. I'm hitting the ball with less curve, so it's not going - it's not curving as. Hence it's spending most of it's energy going forward and just the fact that I'm transferring the energy so much more efficiently than I used to.
Q. Also long?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, because I'm not used to hitting the ball that far. I'm hitting the ball iron, distance wise, with some of the top guys on Tour. For a number of years there, I didn't do that.
Q. Also wanted to ask one question on Augusta, on the sounds of the place, a number of players I've talked to have said that they can tell when it's a cheer for you without seeing something go up on the board. Could you talk about just the coolness of the sounds at Augusta? Do you ever know when it's for someone else?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, you hear certain roars -
Q. '98 with Jack.
TIGER WOODS: '98 was certainly interesting. We were the group in front when all that was going on. Yeah, you know who they are. I think I know who they are because I'd looking at tee times and where they are placed and you have to figure what hole they are going to be about. I can't really tell that - you can tell eagle roars, but for specific players, whether it can be loud or not, the only time I've ever heard it super loud was in '98 when Jack was making his run. Davis and I were right in front of him, and we were trying to win the tournament just like he was, but he got off to a great start, chipped in on 3, birdied 6 and we were walking up to 7 green and it was just going berserk. Playing around Amen Corner, he got standing ovations the whole way around, we were backing off shots pretty much all day, because Jack was just on a run, and everybody was so appreciative of what he was doing at that age.
Q. Cool? Or did it annoy you?
TIGER WOODS: It was awesome. It was awesome, because I mean, I wasn't around in '86, and I didn't get a chance to experience that. So I got a chance to somewhat experience it in '98.
Q. What's the loudest cheer you ever heard?
TIGER WOODS: Probably Phoenix.
Q. At Augusta, sorry. I know which one you're talking about.
TIGER WOODS: The loudest roar I ever heard?
Q. Loudest without trash being thrown at you.
TIGER WOODS: Probably '05 on 16.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.