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LOUISVILLE – After driving past 30 video and still photographers camped out in the parking lot, Tiger Woods parked his courtesy car near the Valhalla Golf Club clubhouse, popped out of the driver's seat and greeted caddie Joe LaCava with a big smile.

Twelve minutes later he began a 35-minute session on the driving range as large crowds on this massive property started to head toward Woods.

And a day before Thursday's start of the PGA Championship, the former world No. 1 played the front nine with Davis Love III, Steve Stricker and Harris English.

Woods' group played in front of some of the largest galleries ever seen on a Wednesday.

Woods swung effortlessly throughout his range session and on the front nine, only struggling with his driver – which as plagued him all season.

Everything looked normal.

Everything, however, has been far from normal with Woods, who reinjured his back Sunday in the final round of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and then decided Tuesday afternoon to give it a go this week.

In an impromptu interview with the media at the turn, Woods, who won this championship here in 2000, said he's fit to play in the last major of the season.

After meeting with the media, he walked the back nine to reacquaint himself with the course, chipping and putting on each hole.

"I feel good," said Woods, who flew to the Bluegrass State from South Florida on Wednesday morning. "Once the bone was put back in, it's all good. The inflammation has been down, I've had range of motion. As you saw out there, I got my speed, my power."

Yes, a bone had to be popped back into place, Woods said.

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Woods, who had back surgery March 31 to alleviate pain caused by a pinched nerve, said his sacrum – a large, triangular bone at the base of the spine and at the upper, back part of the pelvic cavity – was jarred loose when he landed with a thud in a bunker on the second hole at Firestone Country Club.

Woods hit a shot from an awkward lie just outside of the steep bunker's upper lip and fell backward.

His back started spasming and he withdrew after hitting a drive on the ninth.

"It was a different pain than what I had been experiencing, so I knew it wasn't the site of the surgery. It was different and obviously it was just the sacrum," Woods said. "The treatments have been fantastic. Once the bone was put back in the spasms went away, and from there I started getting some range of motion. My physio is here. If it does go out (again), he's able to fix it."

Woods said he is pain-free and is not taking any pain medication nor did he need a cortisone shot. He is taking anti-inflammatory medication.

Woods also said he is here to win. His best finish this season, however, is a tie for 25th. He has only played three events since his back surgery.

Since Woods won his 14th and last major in the 2008 U.S. Open, he's finished in the top-10 nine times in 19 starts in majors. But he hasn't played in six others due to injuries.

He is grouped in the first two rounds with Phil Mickelson and Padraig Harrington. They tee off at 8:35 a.m. ET.

When asked what he had to do this week to impress U.S. captain Tom Watson to be a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup Sept. 26-28, Woods simply said "play well."

"That's the only thing I can control," Woods said. "Try to go out there and win this event. That's all I'm focused on. … I played all right. Nothing great. It's only Wednesday – I want my good stuff to start tomorrow. I felt pretty good about how I played and the shots I hit."

Sean Foley, Woods' swing coach, said there was no hint that his pupil's swing was off during the practice round.

"Did you notice on the range how hard he was hitting it," Foley said. "If he's hitting it that hard, going at it that hard, his in a good place."

Watson, who named Steve Stricker one of his three vice captains for the Ryder Cup about the same time Woods arrived at Valhalla, said he didn't want to speculate about what he's going to do with his picks.

"I can't tell you what's going to happen with Tiger," he said. "I don't know his physical condition right now. And I said right from the beginning, if he's playing well and he's in good health, I'll pick him."

But Watson was encouraged by the news that Woods will play this week.

"He said to me he really wants to make the team in the worst way," Watson said.

"He wants to make the team. Just like (Jason Dufner) did. This Ryder Cup is a big thing. It's a big, big, big event, and these players really want to make the team and bring that Cup back to the United States. After what happened at Medinah (a loss in 2012), I'd be the same way. I'd want to be getting on the team and do what you have to do to get that Cup back."

PHOTO GALLERY: This Week at the PGA Championship

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