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Woods' back 'felt a lot better' in Round 1 at Doral

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PALM HARBOR, FL - MARCH 10: Charles Howell III hits off the 17th tee during the first round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course on March 10, 2016 in Palm Harbor, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

DORAL, Fla. – If there exists a perfect storm – no pun intended – for a professional golfer suffering from a back injury, Tiger Woods has endured it so far at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Still recovering from back spasms, which caused him to withdraw Sunday at the Honda Classic, Woods didn’t play a practice round at the renovated Trump National Doral. He only chipped and putted one day prior to the first round.

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He then opened with five pars and a bogey Thursday before a powerful storm swept through the area. After a two-hour, 24-minute suspension – with starting, stopping and restarting probably not optimal for a player experiencing back issues – he completed four more holes, posting three pars and another bogey to conclude his day at 2 over through 10.

All of which leads to the final part of this perfect storm, as Woods will be forced to play 26 holes Friday on that balky back. So far he hasn’t been seen wincing or grimacing, but he did appear to be walking gingerly at times, possibly favoring the injury.

“Felt a lot better today,” he said. “Warm-up was good, and I felt good all day even through the delay. I'm ready to go back out tomorrow and play well.”

Woods’ real ailment Thursday was his putting stroke. He needed 20 putts through those 10 holes, including a missed 4-footer for birdie on the par-5 eighth and an 8-footer for par on the par-5 10th.

The opening round will resume at 8:45 a.m. ET on Friday, with Woods playing his tee shot on the par-4 11th hole.

“Should be a long day for all of us,” he said. “Hopefully tomorrow I can get back out there in the morning, play well and work back to even par by the end of the first round. Then shoot a low one in the afternoon.”