NORTON, Mass. – Tiger Woods got off to a hot start Thursday before even hitting his first shot.
The images of Woods on the practice range rubbing his upper back with a towel and placing a cold bottle of water on the back of his neck was alarming for someone who has endured four back surgeries. He said last month at the Memorial that he has days when his back doesn't feel right.
This wasn't one of them.
Woods had some heating oils applied to his upper back before teeing off in The Northern Trust, and they were a little spicy. He was rubbing off the excess and trying to cool it down with the water.
Once he got on the TPC Boston, it took him a little more time to heat up.
Woods didn't make a birdie until a two-putt on the par-5 18th hole as he made the turn, and then he ran off four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the front nine for a 3-under 68. That left him four shots out of the lead.
“My lower back is used to it,” Woods said about the hot oils. "We do it all the time just so I can get loose. I decided to put some up on my neck, and it's not as tolerant as my lower back, so it gets awfully hot. It's common in pretty much every other sport, and especially hockey. Those guys put some pretty hot stuff on their legs, but you become accustomed to it.
“My lower back is pretty immune to it,” he said. “But my neck is not.”