(Reuters) – Tiger Woods on Wednesday said stiffness in his surgically repaired back had limited his ability to practice ahead of the Northern Trust Open, which kicks off the PGA Tour playoffs on Thursday in Jersey City.
The American played what he called a “modified” nine holes at the Liberty National Golf Club on Tuesday with Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson but limited his shots to chips and putts on the back nine at Wednesday’s pro-am.
“Some days I’m stiffer than others. Yesterday I was out there hitting it great, driving it out there with Brooksy and DJ, and today I’m stiff. Hopefully I’m not that way tomorrow,” he told reporters.
Woods, who has played just four times since his Masters victory in April, said past experience had taught him to take a cautious approach when it comes to his health.
“I learned a lot last year by playing too much after coming back from my procedure and not really knowing what to expect,” he said.
“I pushed it pretty hard and vowed I’d never do that again.
“And that’s the challenge now because I cut my schedule back. But the problem was the season changed.
“We have a more condensed season and trying to figure out how to stay sharp, practice and also have my back feeling good all the time. It is a challenge.”
Woods said he could no longer practice as much as he would like to and was unable to even “sniff” the level of preparation he used to put in before a tournament.
The 43-year-old is hoping to earn the right to play in the 30-player Tour Championship, which he won last year to end a five-year title drought.
Woods will be looking to tie Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour victories when he tees off Thursday morning alongside J.T. Poston and Scott Piercy.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Nick Mulvenney)