This we know after a breathless day of
Tiger Woods tied his shoes without grimacing. While laughing and joking with
"Yes," Woods said, when asked if he can win the 96th
Woods said he will tee off from No. 10 with
That Woods is even here after withdrawing from Sunday's final round at the
Last seen having difficulty removing his shoes after withdrawing, Woods said what happened Sunday in Ohio is unrelated to his March 31 back surgery to address a pinched nerve.
"Basically, when I landed in the bunker, my sacrum went out," Woods said. "It pinched the nerve and hence the spasms. My physio put it back in. We've just been treating it, some soft-tissue work. ... Once the bone was put back in, the spasms went away and I started getting some range of motion."
Woods said he decided to play at Valhalla on Tuesday afternoon when his "firing sequence was back to normal" and his "sequencing was good." And he must feel fine because he fired off a playful tweak at his beloved media when he declared himself "pain-free except for the headache of talking to you."
The will-he-or-won't-he angle created a surreal day, which didn't quite reach white-Bronco-on-the-freeway levels. But it did feature photographs of his empty parking space and created a circus atmosphere around his practice round, played with Love,
"I know how deeply he wants to be a part of this [Ryder Cup] team," said Stricker, one of Woods' close friends on tour. "He wants to get his game going, wants to show he can play, that he's going to get healthy."
Woods said he played "all right" on the front nine and then walked the back nine with his putter and wedges to assess the redone greens. He joked that his yardage and course book from 2000 is "useless."
Some might apply that same adjective to Woods' injury-plagued season, although his colleagues and competitors understand what his presence means. And anyone who forgot needed only to watch his practice-round gallery, atypical in its size and fervor.
"If you win a big tournament without Tiger in the field, you still feel very happy about it,"
Woods used to treat major championships as though they were his kingdom. But his drought now stretches to the 2008 U.S. Open he won on a knee that required surgery. After missing this year's
You never can count him out.
"I haven't been able to do my agility stuff because I'm still building back up," Woods said. "I can't do both at the same time. So when the season is over, I'll get back to my agility work, my explosiveness, my power — all that stuff back up to where I used to be."