Tiger Woods battled through back pain during the second round of The Barclays and finished the round with a 69 to go to minus-5 for the tournament. With the pain visible on Woods' face throughout the day, it would seem that the injury is going to hold Woods back. This won't be the case, and if anything, the injury will fuel Woods to play better.
There is little questioning of Woods' toughness after a well-documented history of playing through injury, most notably 2008's stress fracture of his leg.
After struggling through yesterday's second round, Woods likely received plenty of treatment on his back in order to get everything back in order. Anybody with back pain knows that the pain doesn't always dissipate after just one night or round of treatment.
Woods can play through a stiff back, as he proved yesterday, and play well. In the second round, Woods was very consistent, shooting one shot over his first-round 68. While the pain was visible on Woods' face and in his movements, you couldn't tell from the quality of his shots.
In discussing his recent struggles during the final two days of tournaments, Woods discussed a problematic mindset entering those rounds.
"I was too relaxed and tried to enjoy it and that's not how I play," Woods said according to ESPN. "I play intense and full systems go. I'm intense and I'm focused on what I'm doing and nothing else matters."
The quote is ultimately telling and points to what could happen during the final rounds at Bethpage Black.
With Woods struggling to move around the course and bend down to grab his ball, it's hard to imagine him feeling relaxed and enjoying the moment. The pain will be fresh in his mind and will force a sort of intensity. Woods' demeanor should allow him to channel the back pain into focus and drive.
Whether considered large or small, playing through pain and doing well is overcoming some form of adversity. Woods hasn't been able to do much of that this year, struggling when pressure has intensified.
Going forward, a stiff back isn't likely to linger unless Woods does damage trying to playing through the discomfort. Playing through the tournament should allow Woods to get a few days of rest and recover before returning to action.
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