Tiger Woods did not exactly burn up the course during his Quicken Loans National pro-am round on Wednesday, but at least the tourney host reported that he had no pain in his back prior to his comeback from his latest injury-related hiatus.
Woods, scheduled Thursday to make his first start in almost four months after undergoing back surgery in late March, had an up-and-down day at Congressional Country Club, his Michael Jordan fadeaway in full evidence as he watched several shots sail off toward starboard.
"My grip got a little bit weak," Woods told reporters on the eve of his first competitive round since March 9. "That’s one of the reasons I was losing the ball to the right, so I just got to strengthen it up."
While the scorecard may not have been up to par for the former world No. 1, Woods’ surgically repaired back held up even under the duress of hitting out of a tough downhill lie in the rough on the par-4 15th hole.
"I tried it out last week and didn’t have any problem hitting shots off uneven lies," said Woods, who will join Jordan Spieth and Jason Day on the 10th tee at 8:12 a.m. ET in the first round of the tournament that benefits Tiger’s foundation. "That was a shot I actually had already tested."
Despite finding just six fairways and 11 greens in regulation, according to Rex Hoggard, Woods pronounced himself pleased with the results.
"A little bit rusty but really manage my way around this golf course -- this golf course is playing tough," said Woods. "The guys aren't going to go really low here. Just got to keep it in front of me and obviously put the ball in the right spots on these greens because if you're in the wrong spots, it's an unfortunately tough task to make birdies."
Most important for Woods was the state of his spine, which the 14-time major champion said was just fine.
"Back feels great which is a really good sign," he said.