Tiger Woods is still an uncertainty to play at Thursday’s WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, due to a back injury.
The reigning champion is still receiving treatment for back spasms he experienced on Sunday during the Honda Classic.
The injury comes five weeks before this year’s Masters 2014 tournament gets underway at Augusta and casts doubts on Woods’ fitness to play at the year’s first major. It also reveals the toll the increasingly demanding sport of golf is having on players' bodies.
Last week, Justin Rose, who won at Doral two years ago, pulled out of the Honda classic due to tendinitis in his shoulder.
The former US Open champion is still expected to play at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, although it means he’ll come to the Donald Trump resort with only two tournaments under his belt this year. Those were a tie for 45th in Los Angeles and a second-round knockout in the WGC Matchplay.
Others aren’t so lucky. Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and, now, Woods, have all spent time on the treatment table.
Jason Stodelle, an on-site physiotherapist with the PGA Tour told The Guardian that in any given week, half the field and 90% of players over the course of the year will need treatment.
“Lower back injuries are the main one for us,” Stodelle explains. “Probably 30% of the guys who come in here have lower back injuries, which is usually repetitive golf swing related.”
Stodelle admits that there’s a “gym-culture” in golf that is contributing to the injuries, with professional golfers spending a much longer time doing strength and conditioning work than previously. There’s also a packed schedule that has golfers playing almost every day.
Add to the equation that many of these men have been playing golf since the age of five and it’s not difficult to see why repetitive injury may be a concern for men like the 38-year-old Woods.
Meanwhile, Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava, has been seen scouting the course in Doral raising hopes that last year’s winner will tee off at the first round on Thursday.