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Injured Woods may not be ready for Doral title defense

Injured Woods may not be ready for Doral title defense

TIGER: Tiger Woods drives on nine during the final round of The Honda Classic golf tournament at PGA National GC Champion Course. Photo: Reuters/Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

By Steve Keating

DORAL, Florida (Reuters) – Tiger Woods’s status for this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship remained uncertain on Tuesday as the reigning champion continued to receive treatment for a sore back.

He canceled his pre-tournament news conference and practice round on Tuesday but is due to meet with the media on Wednesday.

Woods, who has been paired with Masters champion Adam Scott and FedExCup winner Henrik Stenson for the opening two rounds at Doral, withdrew from Sunday’s final round of the Honda Classic after 13 holes due to back spasms.

Woods, whose career tally of 14 majors is second to Jack Nicklaus, said in a statement after the Honda Classic that he would decide later if he could defend his WGC-Cadillac title.

If Woods is unfit to play it would be a big setback ahead of the April 10-13 Masters at Augusta National, the year’s first major

It would also leave world number two Scott a chance to bump Woods from the top of the world rankings with a win at Doral.

In 13 career starts at the WGC-Cadillac championship, Woods has seven wins, the last four on the famed Blue Monster course which underwent a massive redesign following last year’s win.

“I’d say it’s definitely a different Doral,” said Briton Justin Rose, the 2012 WGC-Cadillac champion. “A lot has clearly been done since last year.

“There’s elements that you recognize but pretty much the shots, the lines and obviously the reads on the greens are all completely new.”

With the world’s top 50 players all teeing it up at the Blue Monster course there will be plenty to keep the expected large galleries entertained.

Another marquee grouping will feature Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, who will be bidding to rebound from a jarring playoff loss at the Honda Classic, 2009 Doral winner and fan favorite Phil Mickelson and in-form Australian Jason Day, winner of WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

“At these events like the majors and WGC events, if you play well, you can move yourself up the rankings pretty quick,” said Day. “Winning the WGC Match Play, moving from 11 to 4, it was one of my goals to get into the top five this year and winning that event shot me up to number four.

“I don’t want to stop there. I just love playing in front of a lot of people on the big stage.”

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