ST. LOUIS – Tiger Woods at times looks similar to the guy who won the PGA Championship four times among his 14 major titles, except for the results.
And except for the way he began the week of the final major of the year. He took an ice bath.
"Just trying to get some inflammation down, and just trying to get ready for the rest of the week," Woods said Tuesday, saying only that the inflammation was "everywhere," without elaborating what caused it. "And a lot of stretching. Did a light lift yesterday and was ready to go for today."
Little good that did him.
Rain pounded Bellerive Country Club, twice suspending practice rounds. Woods played only five holes on the course he last saw the day after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a few hours before the American Express Championship was canceled.
He returns nearly as much of a mystery as when the year started.
Just over two weeks ago, Woods had full control of his shots and moved into the lead during the middle of the final round at the British Open. He was feeling so good about his game that he took an all-or-nothing shot out of a pot bunker on the 10th hole that he thought might be a deciding moment, and he pulled it off. And then he missed the birdie putt, made a double bogey on the next hole and faded away.
Still, it built even more hype about his chances heading into the PGA Championship — until he shot 73-73 on the weekend at Firestone, a course that he has dominated as much as any other.
It's been like that all year.
He was one shot out of the lead on the back nine at consecutive tournaments in Florida, and then was never a factor at the Masters. He missed the cut in the U.S. Open, and then had a chance to win the British Open.
His health has held up nicely, especially coming off his fourth back surgery.
"There's going to be certain days that I'm just not going to have the speed and the flexibility and the movement that I once did," Woods said. "I'm 42 now, and I've had four back surgeries. So things are going to be different from day to day, and it's just about managing it. Before, I didn't really have any of those issues early in my career because I didn't have a fixed point in my back. My knee used to hurt a lot, but I could play around that."