Former world number one Tiger Woods, a 14-time major champion is expected to show up for Thursday’s scheduled start at Valhalla PGA Championship.
Woods suffered a back injury Sunday during his final round at the World Golf Championships event in Akron, Ohio.
But the good news is that he managed to get to Valhalla in spite of everything. Everybody wants him on the field, that’s for sure. “It didn’t look good,” said longtime rival Phil Mickelson. “It looked like he was really in pain. I hope he’s OK. I mean I hope he’s able to play next week. I hope it’s a muscle and nothing serious because I’m really looking forward to playing with him.”
Woods parked his car near the clubhouse, came out of the car and greeted Joe LaCava with a smile. He than began a 35-minute session on the driving range while the crowd started to greet him. The 38-year-old multiple champion, who had surgery for a pinched nerve in March, missed the Masters and US Open, but played a practice round at Valhalla on Wednesday afternoon and will officially start the year’s final major.
Apart from Rory McIlroy, who won the US Open in 2011 and the US PGA in 2012 and is only the third player after Jack Nicklaus and Woods to win three majors by the age of 25, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose are also among his challengers.
“Definitely over the past couple of weeks, it’s the best I’ve driven the ball. I’m converting a lot of the chances that I’m giving myself,” said McIlroy.
Should Woods fail to play this week, it would mark the first time in his career he has missed three majors in a single season, including the Masters and US Open he already missed this year while recovering from surgery.
Woods is scheduled to play the first two rounds alongside five-time major winner Phil Mickelson and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington.
“Everybody wants him to be back at the golf tournaments,” Martin Kaymer of Germany said Tuesday. “If you win a big tournament without Tiger in the field, you still feel very happy about it, but you want to play against him. It’s nice if he’s part of every tournament. He brings a lot of people into it. It has a different flair.”
Playing this week is very important for Woods as he intends to qualify for the US Ryder Cup team that will face holders Europe next month at Gleneagles, Scotland.