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Woods' back 'always going to be a challenge' on long weeks like Match Play

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AUSTIN, Texas – When Tiger Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational earlier this month with an ailing neck, it set in motion a series of consequences.

In an effort to maintain the balance between rest and readiness it seemed obvious he’d play The Players, where he tied for 30th, and made this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play an easy option with Woods figuring he would be assured at least three rounds thanks to the event’s pool play format.

Plenty of “reps” to be ready for the year’s first major, right?

Thanks to his victory on Friday over Patrick Cantlay, which assured him a spot in the knockout stages this weekend, he now can count on four rounds and maybe more.


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In fact, he could end up playing seven rounds if he makes it all the way to Sunday’s final four and that, at least for a player slowed by a neck strain and following four back procedures, may not be a recipe for success.

“I think it makes a big deal for me the fact that I've got a chance to end my match this early in the day. [Some players don't] tee off for another hour, so that would have been a bigger challenge,” said Woods, whose Day 3 match ended on the 16th hole. “I get to rest all afternoon, get worked on and be ready by tomorrow morning.”

This weekend’s forecast probably doesn’t help Woods’ outlook as well, with temperatures in the mid-60s for Saturday morning and even more cold and wind on tap for Sunday.

“I'll have to do my normal warmup, make sure that I'm warm and keep warm,” said Woods, who will play Rory McIlroy in the Round of 16 on Saturday morning. “That's always going to be a challenge with me going forward with the way my back is. Just got to keep it warm and keep it moving.”