NORTON, Mass. -- 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, 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.
'This was the first day I hit balls or swung a club since Sunday. And it was a pleasant surprise to go out there and play without any discomfort today'
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 a 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 Friday morning to begin the tournament in the ultimate power grouping -- Woods, British Open champion Phil Mickelson and Masters champion Adam Scott, who not only are Nos. 1-2-3 in the FedEx Cup, but 1-2-3 in the world.
Even before he could hit his first tee shot in the pro-am, one of the amateurs asked him about his back.
The question was inevitable. The answer was predictable.
"It's fine," Woods said.
The rest of the round was just like any other. There was no indication of injury, plenty of laughs and even the occasional, "Good shot, Mike," from Woods. He was speaking to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of his amateur partners.
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 practise before and after rounds. Woods said that would be "day to day."
"This was the first day I hit balls or swung a club since Sunday," he said. "And it was a pleasant surprise to go out there and play without any discomfort today."
-- The Associated Press