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Injury scare for Tiger Woods

Three-times winner Tiger Woods could miss the WGC-American Express Championship at Mount Juliet with a shoulder injury, he said on Wednesday.

The prestigious tournament, a rung down from a major, is already missing the man who deposed Woods after five years as world number one, Vijay Singh, who is out while repairs are made to his hurricane-hit house in Florida.

Woods, the world number two, said he would make a decision on whether to play after a warm-up session before the first round on Thursday.

"If I'm able to go, I'll go. If I can't, then I won't," Woods told a news conference after playing seven holes of practice on Wednesday. The injury has affected a muscle in his left shoulder-blade.

"I've never been one to pull out of tournaments and quit just because I'm physically sore.

"I've played through my knee pain for quite a long time and if I can go, I'll go," added Woods, who had knee surgery in December 2002. "There's no doubt about that.

"Whether I'll be able to swing a club is another story. But I've never had back pain in my life, so this is all new to me."

Fijian Singh pulled out of the elite limited field event on Monday.

Other big-name absentees include U.S. Masters champion Phil Mickelson, for personal reasons, and world number seven Mike Weir, because of sickness. However, the field of 68 boasts 44 of the top 50 in the world rankings.

Woods, who had been set to chase a third successive American Express Championship victory this week, said the shoulder problem developed on a flight back from New York last week.

"I got it sleeping awkwardly," he said. "A couple of rib heads aren't sliding properly and the muscles have spasmed up. It hasn't been the same since.

"It only hurts when I swing a club. I probably could have played 18 holes today, but it would have been very tough.

"I'm hitting it much straighter, but it's not going as far."

Eight-times major winner Woods has not won a strokeplay title since his two-shot triumph in last year's American Express Championship at Woodstock, Georgia.

He is scheduled to play in Ireland this week and at next month's Tour Championship in Atlanta, Georgia.

"Those are two big events and I'd like to be able to win them both," he said. "That would give me three wins for the year and I think that would be a very good year.

Woods won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February.

"The things I've been working on with my swing are building nicely now," he added. "But it's a fine line between finishing in the top five and winning a championship.

"Like the Byron Nelson (Championship) and the Wachovia (Championship in May), I was one shot out of a playoff back-to-back weekends and, in both instances, I didn't get up and down from the simplest little chip shots on the back nine.

"But I've had two straight second-place finishes, which is a very positive sign," he added, referring to his last two PGA Tour starts at the WGC-NEC Invitational and Deutsche Bank Championship.

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