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Thursday, August 29, 2013
Tiger Woods back in Boston

By Kevin Maguire
ESPN.com

NORTON, Mass. -- Just four days removed from falling to his knees during the final round of the Barclays, Tiger Woods returned inside the ropes for a pro-am Thursday at TPC Boston and showed no ill effects of the back problems that hampered him at Liberty National.

The world's No. 1-ranked player said after the Deutsche Bank Championship pro-am that he hadn't swung a club since Sunday. Woods originally planned to play just nine holes Thursday and then chip and putt on the back nine, as he had done in the Barclays pro-am. Instead, he went the full 18 with his foursome of amateurs that included New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Woods noted that despite the cold conditions, he was able to hit his driver without incident.

"I hit driver pretty much almost every hole today," said Woods, who made four birdies, including at the par-5 18th hole, where he knocked his third shot from the fairway to within tap-in range. "It was soft, drizzly, cold -- cold for a Florida kid. So it required a bunch of drivers. And I had no problems hitting them and it felt good to be able to have that feeling again, considering the last time I swung a club it wasn't that way."

Woods' three other birdies came at the par-5 seventh hole and Nos. 10 and 12. At the 12th, he crushed a driver an estimated 346 yards. With 115 yards to the hole, he knocked a wedge to 4 feet and made the putt.

With the 6:50 a.m. ET tee time Thursday, Woods didn't get to the practice range until 17 minutes before he heading to the first tee. He said after his round that he had received treatment on his back prior to playing.

Earlier this week, Woods withdrew from a charity tournament hosted by friend and former Stanford teammate Notah Begay III. Woods' status for the second leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs was uncertain, but after Thursday's round, it appears he will be in the field of 100 starting Friday morning.

Woods said he's been receiving treatment on his ailing back two or three times a day. He tees off in Round 1 of the Deutsche Bank Championship at 8:40 a.m. ET on the 10th tee with Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott.

Woods' back problems were caused last week by what he said was a soft hotel mattress. He finished tied for second at the Barclays, one shot behind Scott.

Golf Channel had a camera on the practice range at TPC Boston to document Woods' arrival. Woods warmed up, then headed to the first tee.

One of his amateurs asked Woods about his back, and Woods gave a short answer that he was fine.

Woods remains No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings, narrowly ahead of Scott with Mickelson at No. 3. Those three players will be in the featured group the opening two rounds of the tournament that starts Friday for its traditional Labor Day finish.

Woods, who already has his 10th season of at least five wins on the PGA Tour, has not made it through a season without a health issue since returning from reconstructive knee surgery in 2009.

He missed two tournaments this summer -- including the AT&T National, which benefits his foundation -- because of an elbow injury suffered in early May. He had tightness in his lower back during the final round of the PGA Championship, one week after his seven-shot win at Firestone.

The FedEx Cup playoffs take a one-week break next week before resuming at the BMW Championship outside Chicago starting Sept. 12.

Woods, meanwhile, stayed busy Thursday night. He was a guest of New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft for the team's preseason game against the New York Giants in nearby Foxborough. Woods and Kraft were on the Gillette Stadium field pregame.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.