Golf: Win or not, Woods just happy to be playing

Tiger Woods, in the third round of the Arnold Palmer event, has played down expectations of a fifth Masters title.
Tiger Woods, in the third round of the Arnold Palmer event, has played down expectations of a fifth Masters title.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MIAMI • Whether or not Tiger Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational yesterday (this morning, Singapore time), the 14-time Major champion left Bay Hill knowing that he has made solid progress in his comeback from surgery.

The 42-year-old, who finished second in the Valspar Championship, his best finish since 2015, claimed he is now comfortable again with playing competitively after making four starts in the last five weeks.

However, in an interview with USA Today, he played down expectations of a victory at next month's Masters - the first Major of the year.

"I still feel like I'm coming back," said Woods, who is on the comeback trail after spinal fusion surgery last April.

"I'm still getting used to what my body can do, shots I'm hitting and playing, competing again.

"I'm just happy to be back playing again, grinding out there and trying to work my way up the board, work my way around the golf course.

"It feels good to be able to finally understand and feel that I can get into a round again.

"I'm not really thinking as much as I was initially. I'm just playing shots, playing the holes, playing angles, all these things are becoming more intuitive."

Henrik Stenson took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, while Woods, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose all surged into the title hunt.

Stenson, the 2016 British Open champion, fired a one-under 71 to stand on 12-under 204 after 54 holes, as American Bryson DeChambeau shot 72 to be one stroke adrift.

But the 36-hole leaders could not expand their edge, allowing Rose (67, 206), McIlroy (67, 207) and Woods (69, 209) among others to charge into a Sunday showdown, 12 rivals in all within five strokes of Stenson at the Orlando layout.

Woods shared 10th place on the course where he has captured eight career titles.

"Never give in to the golf course (or) certain shots," he said.

"I'm just trying to make the best possible score and dig it out on every hole."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2018, with the headline 'Win or not, Woods just happy to be playing'. Print Edition | Subscribe