Tiger Woods could be now be staring at back surgery after having to withdraw from this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in suburban Orlando.
Woods advised officials late on Tuesday his back was still troubling him ahead of teeing-up in an event he has won eight times before including the past two years.
The 14-time Major Champion advised everyone of his withdrawal via his webiste – www.tigerwoods.com – but also spoke with Palmer in person indicating he he would not be able to defend the title.
“I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won’t be able to play in his tournament this year,” Woods said.
“I would like to express my regrets to the Orlando fans, the volunteers, the tournament staff and the sponsors for having to miss the event.
“Unfortunately, my back spasms and the pain haven’t subsided.”
Woods has been plagued by back problems since last year but his condition has obviously worsened over the past few months.
After doubling up in pain during the staging of last year’s FedEx Cup BMW Championship it was obvious those back problems continued over the Christmas and New Year period.
So much so, it seriously hampered the 38-year old’s off-season practice as he then began 2014 playing poorly in the defence of his Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines before travelling to Dubai for the 25th anniversary of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic where he finished in a lowly share of 45th place, and in an event he had won twice before.
Woods then teed-up in the Honda Classic but failed to finish the event at Palm Beach Gardens and walking from the course after 13 holes in his final round.
Then after shooting a third round 66 Woods was again in trouble over the final round of the following’s weeks WGC – Cadillac Championship finishing well down the field and also in an event he was defending.
Woods was due to play the opening two rounds of the $US 6.2m Arnold Palmer Invitational in the company of Graeme McDowell and Harris English but it’s now uncertain if he will be fit for next month’s Masters.
And having played just four events this year the questions being asked now is whether Woods will tee up at Augusta National and if so, will he compete in the Shell Houston Open the week prior as a stop-gap measure in missing out on ‘Arnie’s event’?
Woods made his Masters debut in 1995 and since then has never missed the new season’s traditional first Major Championship, and winning first in 1997 and then again in 2001, 2002 and 2005.
“It’s too early to know about the Masters, and I will continue to be evaluated and work closely with my doctors,” Woods added in his statement on his website.
“I feel badly that I won’t be able to play in this great tournament this week.”