- Arnold Palmer Invitational
Tiger aims for Bay Hill after back treatmentMarch 12, 2014 « Guardiola: No handshake, no problem | Chartbeat test »
Tiger Woods aims to play next week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where he is the defending champion and has won eight times, despite back issues that have plagued him the past two tournaments.
Woods, who was visibly hurting during Sunday's final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship, said following his 78 that his back spasms returned after hitting a shot out of a bunker on the sixth hole at Doral. The previous week, Woods had withdrawn from the Honda Classic during the final round.
"Tiger is continuing to get treatment and get himself in a good place for next week," his agent, Mark Steinberg, said in an email to ESPN. "He intends to be at Bay Hill."
Woods has played just four times this year and said that he purposely let up in the off-season in order to be fresh for the long golf year while also protecting a back that gave him problems toward the end of 2013.
During the final round of the Barclays in August, Woods suffered back spasms that sent him to the ground after hitting an approach shot to the 13th green. He tied for second behind Adam Scott but was not the same through the rest of the FedEx Cup play-offs.
After some time off, Woods returned to finish tied for third at the European Tour's Turkish Airlines Open. After another break, he lost in a play-off at his foundation's World Challenge.
Woods then had six weeks off before beginning his 2014 season at Torrey Pines, where he had won eight times but failed to make the 54-hole secondary cut, finishing tied for 80th. The following week he tied for 41st in Dubai.
At both the Honda and Doral events, Woods shot a tournament-low round on Saturday (65 at PGA National, 66 at Doral) to give himself a chance on Sunday, only to be plagued by back issues. At the Honda, Woods withdrew with five holes left; on Sunday, he played the entire round but failed to make a birdie for just the eighth time during a round in his PGA Tour career.
Last week Woods did not hit any full shots until warming up prior to the first round. Bay Hill is a course where he would need no practice time. Although he is required to play in the Wednesday pro-am, he could ask for a waiver to avoid it, which is granted to players twice a year.
Woods said on Sunday what he was going through was the same as the previous week.
"If it flares up, it flares up," Woods said. "It's just a matter of keeping it calm, and we had a quick turnaround here from last week. It would be nice to have a week off where I can shut it down and get some treatment."
Neither Woods nor Steinberg has disclosed how much medical evaluation Woods has received or if he had undergone any testing, such as an MRI.
"If I feel good, I can actually make a pretty decent swing," Woods said on Sunday. "You saw it yesterday. I actually can make some good swings and shoot a good score, but if I'm feeling like this, it's a little tough."
This article originally appeared on ESPN.com