Tiger Woods 'on track' for the Masters despite recent neck injury

Tiger Woods

Woods withdrew from last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, in the latest fitness setback to have dogged this phase of his career.

The PGA Tour appear to be anticipating the announcement, having already announced that Woods will be grouped with reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed and defending Players champ Webb Simpson for the first two rounds at Sawgrass.

"That's just because my lower back is fused, and so the stress has to go somewhere if I don't have movement, and so it's very important for me going forward since the surgery to keep pliable or else the stress is going to go somewhere else", Woods said. I was just plodding along and just kind of getting around. My lower back is fine, and I have no long-term concerns, and I hope to be ready for The Players.

He has no choice after his spinal fusion surgery in April 2017, the most recent of his four back operations.

"It's just that the golf course plays so much shorter in May than it does in March". If you have force, it's got to go somewhere.

"I have to stay fit and it's about managing it the best I can and not push it".

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His neck issues have raised questions about whether it's affected his putting, which has been a struggle of late for Woods.

In three tournament starts this year, Woods tied for 20th at the Farmers Insurance Open, tied for 15th at the Genesis Open and tied for 10th at the WGC-Mexico Championship. Killen, who lives near Woods in Florida, works with a number of other PGA Tour players, including Justin Thomas and J.B. Holmes, and is familiar with Woods' stroke.

"You can only swing or make the movement as good as your body's feeling, " Woods said. "We're going to have to hit more clubs off the tees, have a little bit longer clubs into the greens, but the difference is the greens are much slower and much more receptive". "As I've started to feel a little bit better this week or this past week, then the putting definitely freed up". "It just made it worse".

"My finishes are getting a little bit better each and every time I've gone out so far this year, and I've gotten a little bit more consistent with my play". Woods said he has been dealing with the strain for a few weeks.

"It's just part of the nature of the sport". It's got to go somewhere. We'll see how this event goes. "I'm going to focus on this week and then I'll let you guys know later in the week". "Sometimes when I go out and play it loosens my back up, but Thursday came around and I was playing and I could just feel it getting tighter and tighter".

"Over the years, I pushed through a few [injuries] and won a few tournaments doing that, but I also cost myself a few years out here".

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