Louisville: Tiger Woods battled through back pain and struggled to fire a three-over-par 74 Friday at the PGA Championship, missing the cut and leaving his future competitive plans uncertain.
The 14-time major champion, chasing the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, refused to listen to his injury-wracked body as the soreness he thought was behind him returned on the practice range.
“It was sore. It went out on me on the range. Just had to play through it,” Woods said.
“It was telling me on the range [playing] probably wasn’t a good idea, but I’m not exactly a non-stubborn person.”
The former world number one, who has not won a major since taking the 2008 US Open while playing on a broken leg, managed to birdie two of the last four holes but finished on six-over 148 after 36 holes, five strokes beyond the cut line in a share of 117th place.
“That was tough. It was a long day,” Woods said. “I tried as hard as I could. That’s about all I’ve got. Unfortunately just didn’t play well.”
Woods withdrew from the final round at a World Golf Championships event last Sunday after straining his back, then waited until arriving Wednesday before confirming he would play.
Woods, nagged by various knee and leg troubles over the past few years, stressed the latest injury is in a different location than that of a March 31 operation to ease a pinched nerve — one that sidelined him for nearly four months — and said he had no regrets at playing this week.
“When I fell out of that bunker last week, it’s the same feeling, the same pain and same spasms,” Woods said.
“Certainly very frustrating any time you have to sit out because of surgery and to deal with the things I’ve had to deal with this year. It’s no fun.”
Woods, who turns 39 in December, is now behind the major win pace of Nicklaus, who won one at age 38, two at 40 and his last at age 46 at the 1986 Masters.
No player since the Masters debuted in 1934 has won more than three majors past his 39th birthday, something Woods now must do in order to catch Nicklaus.
Asked if he felt old, Woods said, “I felt old a long time ago. It’s darn near 20 years out here.”
Woods was unsure when he might play again. While a candidate for the Ryder Cup if healthy, there seemed no assurance Woods might be so in time for US captain Tom Watson to make him a captain’s selection on September 2.
Having also failed to qualify for the season-ending US PGA play-offs, Woods faces a long lay-off and said that muscle work is a must during the break.
“I need to get stronger,” Woods said. “I need to get my glutes strong again, my abs and my core back to where I used to have them. They are just not quite there yet.
“Obviously by playing, you can’t burn the candle at both ends. I need to get stronger physically and be back to where I was. I need to get back in that gym and get stronger.”
Woods said the spasms disrupt his swing timing, leaving little hope of producing the amazing shotmaking skills that captivated the world and dominated the game for nearly a decade.
“I couldn’t make a back swing. I can’t get the club back,” Woods said. “It throws everything off. I can’t get anywhere near the positions that I’m accustomed to getting to or any of it. I can’t do it. I’ve got to rely on timing, hands and hopefully I can time it just right.”
Woods was especially frustrated as he watched rivals prosper in prime scoring conditions on a wet course as he struggled.
“It’s very frustrating because the golf course is gettable,” Woods said. “It was as soft as it could be today.”