By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOUISVILLE Kentucky (Reuters) – The waiting game on whether or not Tiger Woods will compete in this week’s PGA Championship entered a new phase on Wednesday when the former world number one arrived at Valhalla Golf Club for an afternoon practice round.
Woods, who withdrew midway through the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio on Sunday due to back spasms, has until his tee time on Thursday morning to register officially for the year’s final major.
The 14-times major winner, who has dealt with a string of injuries during his career and had surgery in late March to treat a pinched nerve in his back, has delayed his decision while receiving further medical advice and treatment.
Woods and his caddie, Joe LaCava, arrived at the Valhalla clubhouse car park where a throng of photographers and television cameramen were waiting before he headed off to the practice range to be joined by his swing coach Sean Foley.
According to tournament organizers, four-times PGA Championship winner Woods was scheduled to tee off for a practice round at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Woods exited the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in obvious discomfort after hitting his drive on the ninth hole of the final round. He said he had been enduring back spasms since the second hole.
The American had been competing in only his third PGA Tour event since being sidelined for three months after having back surgery, causing him to miss both the Masters in April and the U.S. Open in June.
Woods, who has been stuck on 14 major titles since winning the 2008 U.S. Open in a playoff, has played just seven tournaments worldwide this season with his best result a tie for 25th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
He has withdrawn twice from his six PGA Tour starts and missed the cut in one other.
Prior to the Bridgestone Invitational, the 38-year-old finished 69th at the British Open after closing with a 75 for a six-over-par total of 294.
Woods is scheduled to tee off in Thursday’s opening round along with former winners Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington at 8:35 a.m. ET.
(Editing by Ed Osmond and Frank Pingue)