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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 September, 2004, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Woods to battle on
Tiger Woods has some cream rubbed into his injured back by caddy Steve Williams
-6 T Hamilton (USA)
-5 M A Jimenez (Spa), S Flesch (USA), S Appleby (Aus), L Donald (GB), S Garcia (Spa), A Scott (Aus)
-4 Z Johnson (USA), T Bjorn (Den), N O'Hern (Aus), R Goosen (SA), L Westwood (GB), R Allenby (Aus), T Woods (USA), J Leonard (USA)
Tiger Woods will play on despite being plagued by a sore back in his opening round of the WGC-Amex Championship.

The defending champion managed to shoot a four-under-par 68 at Mount Juliet, two behind Open champion Todd Hamilton, who set the pace with a 66.

Woods was in pain after virtually every shot and needed occasional on-course back rubs by his caddie Steve Williams.

"I was hoping the spasms would go away, but that didn't happen," he said. "I just had to get through it somehow."

Woods, who played only seven holes in practice, picked up the injury sleeping awkwardly on a flight from New York to his Orlando home.

"I figured if I could just get the ball on the green somehow, the way I'm putting, I could shoot below par," he added.

"Whenever the shoulder blade goes back and contracts, I get unbelievable shooting pain, usually right at contact and just beyond it.

"I'm getting it worked on now so I feel better tomorrow. Hopefully each and every day it'll feel better."

Woods is trying for a third successive victory in the event, but failure to do so would leave him without a strokeplay title for the first time since 1996.

European Ryder Cup team members Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald and Miguel Angel Jimenez are among those just one behind leader Hamilton.

"If you can't putt on these greens, you just can't putt, because these greens are spectacular," said the 38-year-old Hamilton.

American left-hander Steve Flesch and Australians Stuart Appleby and Adam Scott also shot 67s.

In a field containing 44 of the world's top 50 players, US Open champion Retief Goosen fired a 68, with fellow South African and world number three Ernie Els a shot further back.

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