Tiger Woods is helped into his winner’s jacket by golfing great Arnold Palmer after taking a victory at the 2001 Bay Hill Invitational in Orlando, Fla.(Scott Audette / Associated Press)
(Erik S. Lesser / EPA)
(Darron Cummings / Associated Press )
Tiger Woods reacts after injuring his right wrist while hitting out of the rough on the ninth hole during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2015.(David Cannon / Getty Images)
Tiger Woods tees off on the second hole during the third round of the Masters at Augusta National on April 11, 2015.(Andrew Redington / Getty Images)
Tiger Woods hits out of the rough on the second hole during the first round of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place, Wash., on June 18, 2015.(Dean Rutz / Tribune News Service)
Tiger Woods leaves the North County Courthouse in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., on Oct. 27, 2017, after pleading guilty to a reckless driving charge stemming from an arrest on suspicion of drunk driving.(Carline Jean / Associated Press)
Tiger Woods attends Game 2 of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017.(Christian Petersen / Getty Images)
Tiger Woods shrugs while responding to a reporter’s question during a news conference at the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill on March 13, 2018. Woods would finish in a tie for fifth that week after finishing in a tie for second at the Valspar Championship in his previous tournament.(Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel)
Tiger Woods lines up a putt on the second green during tje Hero World Challenge, an offseason tournament he hosts, at Albany, Bahamas on December 1, 2017. Woods was testing his surgically repaired back in preparation for a 2018 return to the PGA Tour.(Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)
Tiger Woods arrived Wednesday at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., to prepare for the PGA Championship, and it appears he will be able to make his tee time on Thursday.
Woods, who was granted an extension to enter by the PGA of America for the year’s final major, said he was “pain-free” after he played nine holes with fellow Americans Davis Love III, Webb Simpson and Steve Stricker.
Woods, who said his latest back injury was not related to his surgery in March, hit the driving range with swing coach Sean Foley before his practice round. His caddie, Joe LaCava, had been at Valhalla since Monday preparing for the event.
When last seen before Wednesday, Woods was gingerly walking off the course at Firestone Country Club after withdrawing from the Bridgestone Invitational because of spasms in his back. He had surgery in March to relieve a pinched nerve in his back.
“Basically, when I landed in the bunker, my sacrum went out,” said Woods, who had to hit an awkward shot from the rough above a fairway bunker at the second hole Sunday and jumped down into the bunker after losing his balance.
“It was a different pain than what I had been experiencing,” added Woods, who returned to his home in Florida on Sunday to receive treatment from a trainer. “So I knew it wasn’t the site of the surgery. Once he put it back in, the spasms went away. And from there, I started getting some range of motion.”
If Woods enters the PGA Championship -- he has until 5:35 a.m. Pacific time to join Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington on the first tee -- it will be his fourth tournament since his surgery. He hasn’t fared well after the surgery, missing the cut at the Quicken Loans National and finishing 69th at the British Open in his first two tournaments.
Kerry Haigh, the PGA’s chief championships officer, said alternates are on site to replace golfers who can’t compete.
“Every PGA Championship, we always have the alternates literally on the putting green or practice range during the tee off, the two-hour tee period,” Haigh said. “So if any player either misses their tee time because they were running late, caught in traffic or whatever, or somebody calls and says they are withdrawing, that alternate is there ready to go.”
Tribune staff writer K.C. Johnson contributed to this report.