GOLF-PGA-WOODS:Aches and pains now part of the game for Woods
By Simon Evans
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - A twinge here and an ache there are now part of the daily grind for the once-dominant Tiger Woods as he seeks to find his fitness and form ahead of the Masters.
Whether or not Woods gets back to his old best and adds to his 14 majors remains golf's central talking point but one thing is certain, Tiger is no longer the pristine athlete he once was.
During Wednesday's Pro-Am, a leisurely warm-up for Thursday's opening round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods pulled up on the sixth tee.
"I guess one of the so-called professional photographers took a picture right in the middle of my downswing. I stopped it and then felt a pretty good twinge in my back," Woods told reporters.
"I walked it off and then tried to hit one down there, hit it in the fairway, but it didn't feel very good. But after a couple of holes it loosened up and I'm good to go now," he added.
It was nothing too alarming but coming after Woods' last tour outing, at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, when he walked off midway through his final round complaining of an Achilles tendon injury, it was another sign of the former world number one's physical problems.
Asked if he was now resigned to constantly having to deal with Achilles and knee problems, the four-times Masters winner replied: "Well, I think as we all know as we age...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."
Woods, who has had four operations on his left knee as well as frequent Achilles issues, says he could no longer afford to keep playing through his problems.
"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 detrimental at the same time physically," he said.
"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."
But Woods says that three days of therapy dealt with the 'tightness' in his Achilles from Doral and after playing a round at Augusta on Sunday and then at the Tavistock Cup on Monday and Tuesday, he feels as good as he did before his latest setback.
"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.
"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."
(Editing by Julian Linden)