Tiger Woods grimaces after teeing off during the final round of the Cadillac Championship. (AP/Lynne Sladky)
Two-time defending champion Tiger Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Tuesday due to his lingering back injuries and he said it was too soon to know if he would be healthy enough to play in the Masters, according to a statement on his website, TigerWoods.com.
I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won't be able to play in his tournament this year. 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. It's too early to know about the Masters, and I will continue to be evaluated and work closely with my doctors. I feel badly that I won't be able to play in this great tournament this week.
Arnold Palmer told the Associated Press that he was disappointed that Woods will not be able to play in the tournament. This will be the second time Woods has missed Palmer's event since turning pro; the first time Woods missed Bay Hill was in 2010, when he sat out for four months following his personal scandals. In 16 appearances at Bay Hill, Tiger has won eight times, including four consecutive wins from 2000-2003.
"I am certainly sorry that Tiger is not able to play," Palmer said. "Quite obviously, we will miss having him here this week. He called me to tell me that his back was still giving him a lot of trouble and he didn't feel he should play. I told him I understood and wished him well."
Woods' back has been an issue during the entire 2014 season. On March 2, he withdrew from the Honda Classic during the final round after 12 holes when he was 5-over-par for the round. The same injury visibly affected Woods the following week as he grimaced his way through four rounds at Doral on his way to a 25th-place finish.
Woods first announced the news via his Twitter feed.
Called Arnold today to tell him that sadly I won’t be able to play. Back spasms and the pain haven’t subsided. http://t.co/7F8LDAV2Ff
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) March 18, 2014
Swing coach Sean Foley told the Associated Press that he would not read too much into how Woods can prepare for the Masters if he can play. The Masters, which Woods has won four times, begins April 10.
"I've been coaching on Tour long enough now to know that Tuesday doesn't affect Wednesday. There's no rhyme or reason to performance," Foley said in a telephone interview. "Tiger is always about the majors, and he's solely about the majors now. He's got to do the right thing. He's just doing the right due diligence about it."
But one man's back pain is another's entry into a prestigious tournament. PGA Tour rookie Brice Garnett earned a spot in the field at Bay Hill with Woods' withdrawal.
@TigerWoods sry to hear the back is still giving u problems. Hope it gets well before Augusta. Thx for the spot and opportunity in @APinv[polldaddy poll=7892899]
— Brice Garnett (@BriceGarnett) March 18, 2014
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