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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Joe LaCava walked nearly every blade of grass on the 18th green at Valhalla Golf Club, jotting notes in his yardage book after stepping off the distances from every edge of the green to every possible pin position. It was like any other Monday at a major tournament.

But the caddie didn’t know whether any of this information would be useful in the PGA Championship, which starts Thursday. LaCava was awaiting word on whether his boss — Tiger Woods — would be healthy enough to play the final major of the year.

“I’m optimistic,” LaCava said after he finished charting the golf course. “I’m hoping he plays. So I’m just doing whatever work I would normally do.”

Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg at Excel Sports Management, said in an email that Monday would be too early for doctors to decide whether the winner of 14 major titles could or even should try to play this week after another back injury.

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Woods took another turn toward an uncertain future when he withdrew after eight holes and one final shot Sunday at the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in Akron, Ohio. Before leaving the course, he said he jarred his back when he hopped into a deep bunker after playing a shot on the par-5 second hole from an awkward lie above the sand.

“It’s just the whole lower back,” Woods said. “I don’t know what happened.”

Woods had back surgery March 31 to alleviate the pain from a pinched nerve. The Bridgestone Invitational was his third tournament since returning from a three-month absence.


• Woods would have to win this weekend to guarantee himself a spot on the Ryder Cup team.

U.S. captain Tom Watson, who has three captain’s picks, told SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio, “I’ve said all along, I would pick Tiger Woods if he’s healthy and playing well. This doesn’t bode well right now. I just hope that maybe it’s just an isolated problem that he can turn around and possibly play this week at the PGA.”

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