Tiger Woods will suit up for his 8:35 a.m. tee time at the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky on Thursday. He will tee off alongside Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington in search of his 5th PGA championship and 15th major win.
After four days of uncertainty due to a back injury he incurred at the 2nd hole of the Bridgestone Invitational at the Firestone Country Club on Sunday, Woods has been given the green light by his doctors. He spent time on Wednesday at the range with his swing coach Sean Foley and played a practice round on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.
Woods was practicing on the range, as shown live on the Golf Channel, and he appeared relaxed and swinging fluidly rather than his typical aggressive style. Golf channel instructor Michael Breed, standing nearby Tiger on the range, said he did not observe any wincing or compensatory movements in his swing. Breed observed that Tiger didn’t appear to be concerned with shot shaping, but working more on his timing and rhythm.
Golf analyst, PGA player, and a former roommate of Tiger at Stanford Notah Begay, also nearby on the range, said that Tiger’s weight transfer and spine angle looked great. Begay reminded viewers that Tiger is a competitor working on his comeback from his recent back surgery and that he has fierce drive. Begay said that Tiger’s upper body and lower body are in perfect sync. “I think this a good sign,” he said.
Yahoo Sports reported that his fellow golfers welcome his presence at the tournament. “Obviously, everybody wants him back at the golf tournaments,” remarked U.S. Open winner Martin Kaymer when asked on Tuesday about Tiger possibly missing the tournament. “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.”
As Breitbart Sports reported in July, Woods, who despite a great 2013, hasn’t won a major since 2008, when he won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in a memorable sudden death playoff after an initial 18-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate. At this point, considering his back struggles Tiger is a long shot to win here at Valhalla.
However, if he does win it wouldn’t be his first time. In 2000 Woods won the PGA championship at Valhalla in a three-hole playoff over Bob May en route to his storied Tiger Slam that he completed with his Masters win in 2001.
Tiger is going off at a 33-1 shot, the same as Bubba Watson, to win the tournament. When Bubba was asked by the Golf Channel on Tuesday who he would bet on, he said, “I’m not a person that gambles, but if I was a gambler, I would always bet on Tiger.”