LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Tiger Woods will give it a go in the PGA Championship, balky back and all.
After keeping the golf world in suspense for two days, Woods arrived at Valhalla Golf Club on Wednesday afternoon with the intention of playing when the tournament begins Thursday. Woods plans to have an afternoon practice round and was said to be touring the course on a golf cart shortly after his noon arrival. He is scheduled to tee off Thursday morning in a group with Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington.
“Obviously, everybody wants him back at the golf tournaments,” U.S. Open winner Martin Kaymer 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 and it’s nice if he’s part of the tournament.”
Woods injured his back Sunday early in his final round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. He withdrew halfway through the round.
"I think it's no secret, obviously we want him to play," PGA CEO Pete Bevacqua said. "... We are rooting for him to play because it would be a great thing to have Tiger Woods here, that's for sure."
The appearance of the world’s most accomplished, recognizable and polarizing golfer is a major boost for the sold-out PGA, where fans are curious to see whether Woods can overcome his physical problems and reprise his dramatic championship performance at Valhalla in 2000. His performance also could impact Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson’s decision-making process as he finalizes the United States squad. Watson's captain’s picks for the team will be announced Sept. 2, and Woods is a prominent candidate for one of those slots – if he's healthy.
Woods’ streak without a major championship now stretches over six years. His last major win, the 14th of his career, came at the 2008 U.S. Open when he played on a broken leg. While he has plenty of time to recuperate for 2015, his quest to surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships becomes more daunting with each physical hurdle and lackluster performance.
Woods previously had to bow out of a major event at Valhalla because of injury. He missed the 2008 Ryder Cup here.
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