The question was inevitable and the answer was predictable. Tiger Woods says his back is fine.
Woods played in the pro-am Thursday morning at the Deutsche Bank Championship and appeared to be swinging freely. The last image of Woods on a golf course looked much worse. Four days ago, he dropped to his knees after a back spasm during the final round of The Barclays, where he finished one shot behind Adam Scott.
Woods said after that round it was ''hypothetical'' whether he would play the Deutsche Bank, adding that he had just walked off the course and wasn't feeling very good.
Golf Channel had a camera on the practice range at the TPC Boston to document his arrival. Woods warmed up, and then headed to the first tee for his pro-am round with a group that included New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
One of his amateurs asked Woods about his back, and Woods gave a short answer that he was fine.
The Deutsche Bank Championship is the second playoff event for the FedEx Cup. Woods remains No. 1 in the standings, narrowly ahead of Scott with Phil Mickelson at No. 3. Those three players will be in the featured group the opening two rounds of the tournament that starts Friday for its traditional Labor Day finish.
Woods, who already has his 10th season of at least five wins on the PGA Tour, has still not made it through an entire season without a health issue since returning from reconstructive knee surgery in 2009.
He missed two tournaments this summer - including the AT&T National, which benefits his foundation - because of an elbow injury suffered in early May. He had tightness in his lower back during the final round of the PGA Championship, one week after his seven-shot win at Firestone.
Woods said last week he experienced stiffness in his lower back and neck because of a soft mattress in his New York-area hotel. He decided to only chip and putt on the back nine of his pro-am last week at Liberty National as a precaution. Over the next four days, he said his back was OK at the start of the round but got progressively worse.
The FedEx Cup playoffs take a one-week break next week before resuming north of Chicago.