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Woods battles bad back Sunday at Doral, shoots 78

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In its second year, Bobby Jones’ tournament was still known as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament. The nines were reversed from Year 1, making this the first year of the course’s present configuration. Gene Sarazen trailed leader Craig Wood by three shots on the back nine, but made up all three strokes by holing a 4-wood from 235 yards for an albatross on the par-5 15th. The two ended up tied in regulation, and Sarazen shot even-par 144 to win the next day’s 36-hole playoff.  - 

DORAL, Fla. – One swing. That’s all it took on Sunday before Tiger Woods’ back injury was flaring up again.

On the sixth hole at Trump National Doral, standing awkwardly with one foot in a fairway bunker and one foot out, Woods tweaked a lower back issue that had forced him to withdraw from the Honda Classic seven days earlier.

“It was just a simple 8‑iron,” he said afterward. “The only thing you do on a downhill lie like that is just go forward. Should be no problem, but it was a problem.”

The problem manifested itself throughout the day, as Woods winced and grimaced his way through a final-round 6-over 78 that left him with a share of 25th place at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

It was the eighth birdie-free round of his PGA Tour career, which spans a total of 1,128 rounds.

“It's over,” he sighed in his first words after the round. “It's finally done, which is good.”

Woods often winced after drives, while picking up his tee and clearly looked uncomfortable standing over putts. If there was one lasting image from the round, it came after a par putt on the 11th hole, when John Wood, caddie for playing partner Hunter Mahan, reached into the hole and picked out Woods’ ball for him.

Asked if he’d considered withdrawing at any point during the round, Woods simply offered, “No.”

As to whether he’s had or will have an MRI on his back, he answered, “We’ve done all the protocols.”

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One day earlier, Woods looked like his vintage self, posting a tournament-best 6-under 66 that vaulted him into contention. After that round, he divulged that he felt sore, but the pain didn’t compare with that of Sunday.

“Well, it's tough,” he explained. “I mean, it was just one thing that set it off, and as I say, I had a quick turnaround from last week. Normally things like this, you shut it down for a while and then get back up and get the strength and everything developed around it. So it will be nice to take this week off and get everything ready for Bay Hill.”

Indeed, his next scheduled start will come at the Arnold Palmer Invitational beginning on March 20. He had previously maintained that he might add another event prior to next month’s Masters, but didn’t have any answers following his round.

“I don't know,” he said. “Just let me get through this day, you know, get some treatment and we'll assess it as time goes on.”