Woods, Lefty, Scott form another Big 3 in Beantown

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Rory McIlroy is the defending champion, and still looking for his first win this year.

Woods, meanwhile, is at a stage of the season where his vernacular has changed. He used to talk about “reps” and “traj” (trajectory) and “the process.” These days, he’s using terms related to his treatment like “activation” and “firing sequence” and “protocol.”

Attribute that to his latest injury _ a bad back, which he said was caused by a soft hotel mattress last week at The Barclays. He also had back pain in the final round of the PGA Championship (he said the injuries are not related), and he suffered from a strain in his left elbow at the U.S. Open, an injury that caused him to miss two tournaments.

When last seen on a golf course, Woods dropped to his knees from a back spasm after hitting a fairway metal into the water on the par-3 13th hole, leading to bogey.

He looked fine, and said as much Thursday during his pro-am at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Woods took full, powerful swings with the driver, and he had no trouble gouging shots from the rough. He stooped over without hesitation to remove his tee from the ground or retrieve his golf ball from the cup.

“The back has been … it’s a lot better than obviously on Sunday,” Woods said. “It was nice to have that extra day of rest. Having the tournament start on Friday certainly helps. And I’ve gotten treatment every day, two to three times a day. And it feels good.”

Even before he could hit his first tee shot in the pro-am, one of the amateurs asked him about his back.

The question was inevitable. The answer was predictable.

“It’s fine,” Woods said.

Woods said he had planned to play nine holes, and then only chip and putt on the back nine as a precaution, just as he did last week at Liberty National.

“But it felt good, so I continued playing,” he said.

Woods said the treatment was similar to the strain in his left elbow two months ago _ electric stimulation, ice, ultrasound and massage. Still unclear was whether how much he would be able to practice before and after rounds. Woods said that would be “day to day.”

“This was the first day I hit balls or swung a club since Sunday,” he said. “And it was a pleasant surprise to go out there and play without any discomfort today.”

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