‘Rusty’ but ready: Woods resumes title hunt

Tiger Woods speaks to the media after his practice round on Tuesday during The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Tiger Woods speaks to the media after his practice round on Tuesday during The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

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3:22:00 PM ET. 04/24/2014




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Editor's note: For complete Players Championship coverage, check out our microsite dedicated to this week's tournament by clicking here.

•••

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Entered in a tournament for the first time since he tied for fourth at the Masters a month ago, Tiger Woods arrived at The Players on Tuesday, played nine holes and said his knee and Achilles are better.

“So I’m here playing,” he said.

Woods pulled out of last week’s Wells Fargo Championship because of a minor left knee sprain and left Achilles strain. He said he has been treating the injuries with rest, anti-inflammatory medication, ice, elevation and “soft-tissue work.”

Woods said he started hitting balls on Monday.

“I have a slight injury, and you’ve just got to take some time off, listen to the docs and do the proper rehab,” he said. “I was able to shut it down for a bit and was able to take care of it.”

Woods played the front nine with longtime friend Mark O’Meara. O’Meara said Woods’ game was “rusty,” but his spirits were good.

“The guy hasn’t played a tournament for a month,” O’Meara said. “He hit some nice shots, some average shots. He’s close.”

O’Meara said Woods didn’t bring up the injuries. O’Meara isn’t a doctor, but he does have a prescription for his pal.

“He just needs to play,” he said. “He needs competition. I’d like to see him play.”

Woods did hit at least one spectacular shot Tuesday after a humorous moment on the eighth tee. While being filmed, he stopped his swing midway through, squatting with the club shaft pointing up. O’Meara’s caddie, Shane Joel, cracked that Woods would’ve looked even more like Charles Barkley had he shaken his knees.

Woods reset and hit a 5-wood to about 5 feet from 241 yards out in a right-to-left wind.

Asked about his game and lack of preparation, Woods said, “It is what it is. The whole idea is that I peak four times a year. I’m trying to get ready for Congressional (U.S. Open next month), and I need some playing time.”

Woods did acknowledge that his short game, which held him back at the Masters, needs work.

“Not very good, quite frankly,” he said of his putting and chipping. “I haven’t putted and chipped as much because I’ve been working on my full swing. That’s part of the tradeoff.”

Then he added something curious: “You can’t do all of the above.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems he and every other Tour player have in the past.

But then everyone seems to have an opinion on Woods, winless on the PGA Tour since September 2009.

Last week, Bubba Watson said his friend Woods has become too mechanical with his swing, overthinking instead of using his natural talent.

Here on Tuesday, Watson said he talked with Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg and another member of Team Tiger about the quote but not yet to Woods. He said he told them that he supports Woods and “didn’t do anything wrong.”

Then Watson cracked, “So, yeah; the camp says I’m OK, but I haven’t talked to the boss yet.”

No, he hasn’t. But it sounds like he will.

Asked about Watson’s comments, Woods said, “That was interesting.”

Asked if he has an issue with Watson, Woods said, “We’ll talk.”

•••

Editor's note: For complete Players Championship coverage, check out our microsite dedicated to this week's tournament by clicking here.

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