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Tiger says body 'OK' ahead of third PGA at Valhalla

Tiger Woods has returned to compete at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, for a third time, with this week's PGA Championship destined to land somewhere in the middle of where his first two ended.

In 2000, Woods authored one of his more memorable major titles when he outlasted Bob May in a final-round duel that included a three-hole playoff.

In a scene that has come to define Woods' unwavering determination, the 15-time major champion marched behind his long putt on the first playoff hole at Valhalla, with a pointed index finger that demanded the ball go into the hole. It obliged.

When Woods tapped in his short winning putt to seal the second consecutive of an eventual four PGA Championship titles, he offered a trademark spinning fist pump.

"It was a fun week and unbelievable moment, really," Woods said Wednesday (AEST).

Woods touched on the passing of the torch that occurred in that 2000 event as he played his first two rounds with Jack Nicklaus, who was playing in his final PGA Championship. Nicklaus failed to make the cut.

There also was Woods' quest for his third consecutive major title that year after winning the US Open and Open Championship.

Woods not only became the first to win three majors in a calendar year since Ben Hogan in 1953, he would also be three-quarters through a run of four consecutive titles. He won the Masters in 2001 to make it four majors in four tries in an accomplishment that would be dubbed the "Tiger Slam."

"Well, I just remember the pressure I felt," Woods said of his quest to match Hogan."

"... The summer was a whirlwind. I was playing well."

Tiger Woods.
Tiger Woods enjoying a practice round for the PGA Championship. (AP PHOTO)

But with the ups, there were the downs. Woods' appearance in the 2014 PGA at Valhalla was marked by back issues as he missed the cut at six over par. He already had undergone one back procedure at that point and his spine was ultimately fused.

Injury issues were only beginning to catch up with a player who transcended golf.

"Coming into '14, I wasn't feeling very good," Woods said.

"I'm always going to feel soreness and stiffness in my back, but that's OK. I just need other body parts to start feeling better."

Where he can take his game this week is anybody's guess. His single-car accident in February 2021 and subsequent major surgery on his right leg have left him a part-time participant on tour.

This week will be Woods' third tournament of the year. He withdrew from the Genesis Open near Los Angeles in February after one round because of illness and made the cut at the Masters last month before finishing 60th at 16 over par. He was last among all competitors who played all four rounds.

"Yeah, my body's OK. It is what it is," Woods said.

"I wish my game was a little bit sharper ... But at the end of the day, I need to be ready mentally and physically come Thursday.

"I can still hit shots. It's getting around that is more of the difficulty I face on the day to day, and the recovery of either practice or pushing myself in competition. You saw it at Augusta. I was right there after two days and didn't do well on the weekend."