Tigers Woods' back improves

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Tiger Woods played in the pro-am at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Thursday and didn't have     any back issues. He suffered spasms last Sunday.  STEW MILNE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
STEW MILNE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Tiger Woods played in the pro-am at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Thursday and didn't have any back issues. He suffered spasms last Sunday.

NORTON, Mass. — On and off the golf course, Tiger Woods didn’t look anything like the player who only four days ago dropped to his knees with back pain.

He took full, powerful swings with the driver at the TPC Boston, and he had no trouble gouging shots from the deep 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 at the Deutsche Bank Championship. “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.”

His health figures to be a talking point at the tournament, at least until he gets to the 10th tee this morning to begin the tournament in the feature pairing of Woods, British Open champion Phil Mickelson and Masters Tournament champion Adam Scott. They are not only Nos. 1-2-3 in the FedEx Cup standings, but 1-2-3 in the world.

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.

WEB.COM TOUR: In Fort Wayne, Ind., Scott McCarron took the first-round lead in the Hotel Fitness Championship, the opening event in the new four-tournament Web.com Tour Finals series.

The 48-year-old McCarron, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, shot 8-under-par 64 at Sycamore Hills. He’s in the field on a special medical exemption after finishing 250th in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings.

“It’s been a long time since I played some good golf,” McCarron said. “But I still know how to. At least I haven’t forgotten that part.”

The bulk of the field is made up of top 75 players from the Web.com Tour money list and Nos. 126-200 in the FedEx Cup standings.

The top 25 players at the end of the final earn PGA Tour cards for the 2013-14 season.

Five area players are in the field, and two are inside the top 25. Will Claxton is tied for eighth place after 67 and Kevin Kisner is tied for 16th after 68.

Scott Parel is tied for 26th place after 69, Vaughn Taylor is tied for 92nd place after 73 and Henrik Norlander is tied for 108th place after 73.

LPGA TOUR: In Portland, Ore., Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum shot 8-under-par 64 to take the lead in the Safeway Classic.

Phatlum, who is 26th on the money list, leads Lexi Thompson by one shot.

Cristie Kerr, Lizette Salas and Sandra Gal are next with 66.

Stacy Lewis, Si Ri Pak, Yani Tseng and Michelle Wie lead a large group at 67.

EUROPEAN TOUR: In Newport, Wales, Espen Kofstad closed his round with three consecutive birdies and an eagle, shooting 7-under-par 64 t take a two-stroke lead after the first day of the Wales Open.

Ex-Augusta State golfer Scott Jamieson had 74.

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