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DORAL, Fla. The back spasms that forced Tiger Woods to withdraw from the Honda Classic apparently have eased enough to let the world’s No. 1-ranked player tee it up Thursday in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral Resort.

I feel better; how about that? Woods said with a smile Wednesday at his first public appearance since Sunday, when he left the course after 13 holes and climbed into his SUV to go home to Jupiter Island. It’s been a long couple days to get everything firing in the proper sequence.

And once we did that, it feels good.

Woods not only returns as defending champion and a seven-time winner at the renovated Doral course but counts this event as a key step in his preparation for next month’s Masters. His only other scheduled event between now and then is the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which is March 20-23 in Orlando.

Woods had planned to play nine holes Wednesday morning before his 1 p.m. EST news conference. Instead, he and caddie Joe LaCava took a walking tour in the afternoon of the completely renovated Blue Monster.

I’ve got no idea what that golf course holds except for what is on video, Woods said. Joey came down here and tried to describe some of the holes and I’m like, ‘What, there’s water on that hole?’

So there are a few changes I need to see. I’m not going to play. I’m going to chip and putt and get a feel for how the grass is, and if it’s different from what it was the last time we played.

Woods said he had hit a few balls Tuesday, but none more than 60 yards.

I chipped and putted for a while, just making sure I had my feels in my hands and didn’t lose that over the last couple days.

Tiger Woods (back spasms) withdraws after 13 holes in final round of Honda Classic

Woods, 38, didn’t encounter any serious physical problems between a wrist injury in 1995 and knee problems in 2007. Since then, however, an array of Achilles tendon, knee, calf, back and elbow ailments have infringed upon his performance every year.

It’s the nature of repetitive sport, he said Wednesday. We do the same motion. Some guys do it a thousand times a day, but it’s the same exact motion.

So you have repetitive injuries and most of my injuries are that.

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His most recent back flareup was in The Barclays last August, when he blamed a too-soft mattress for pain throughout his final round. He was able to finish, however, tying for second.

Woods played the next event, the Deutsche Bank outside Boston, even though he recalled he didn’t feel that great. By the following week, at the Tour Championship in Atlanta, he was fine. It comes and goes, he said.

He said he felt tightness while warming up for the final round of the Honda and that while that sometimes goes away, it didn’t this time.

. I’m like, ‘I don’t need this to shut down now,’ he recalled Wednesday. I thought I could play through it, and evidently I couldn’t.

Given his relative inactivity – this will be only his third PGA Tour event of the year – Woods was asked if he is concerned about preparing for the Masters. He has won the Masters four times, but not since 2005.

I’m still kind of constantly looking at that, looking at managing myself through there and making sure everything’s good, he said. I want to be strong and fit and healthy enough to be able to play that golf course and give it my best.

Woods, who reclaimed his No. 1 world ranking from Rory McIlroy last March after winning at both Doral and Bay Hill, could lose it to No. 2 Adam Scott this week if Scott plays well and he doesn’t.

The two are paired with No. 3 Henrik Stenson in the first two rounds, with a 12:39 p.m. tee time Thursday.

Honda OREE
Honda OREE
Honda OREE
Honda OREE
Honda OREE

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