PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Just when it appears his biggest problems are behind him, Tiger Woods continues to find more hazards than perhaps even he knew existed.
Woods withdrew from the Players Championship with a sore neck shortly before noon at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday. He spoke to a few reporters in front of his locker, spent a few minutes in the fitness trailer and left the home of the so-called "fifth major" championship.
Woods had bogeyed two of his first six holes, including a tee shot into the water on the fifth hole, to drop to 2-under for the tournament. He hit two shots on the seventh hole, the first way right, the second with a grimace on his face, before telling a Tour official and playing partner Jason Bohn he was done for the day.
"I've been playing with a bad neck for quite a while," Woods said from the lockerroom, where according to the AP he bowed his head and closed his eyes for long stretches at a time. "They want me to go get a picture on it next week. I might have a bulging disk."
Heading into the Players Championship, speculation centered around whether or not Woods would make the cut. No one thought his week would end with an injury, although while shooting a second-round 71 Friday, Woods stopped at least once to stretch his neck, grimacing as he did so.
"I saw him on the first tee doing some warm-up exercises with his neck" Bohn said after completing his final round, an 80 that included a triple-bogey on the 18th hole. "But I don't know his routine."
Bohn said he was surprised by how far off-line Woods hit several shots, and was even more surprised when Woods finally told him he was withdrawing. However, Bohn added, "Once I shook his hand, I could tell he was in some pain."
It's been a year to forget for golf's embattled No. 1, whose secret life of extramarital affairs came to light shortly after he crashed his car the morning after Thanksgiving last November. But in fact he had been struggling with other issues even before that, namely his balky left knee (four operations) and a torn right Achilles tendon. Later it came to light that in his rehabilitation he'd seen a controversial Canadian doctor who is under federal investigation for distributing banned substances to athletes.
Now, with his marriage apparently in limbo if not over, and his personal life more complicated than ever, Woods is battling a new injury, a pain in the right side of his neck that he began to feel even prior to the Masters last month. It causes a tingling in his fingers, he said after withdrawing Sunday, and while he'd been trying to play through it, he finally couldn't take it anymore.
"Backswing, downswing, followthrough," he said when asked when he feels the pain. "Setting up over the ball is fine, but once I start making the motion, it's downhill from there."
Sunday marked the first time Woods has withdrawn from a tournament since the Northern Trust Open at Riviera in 2006, when in cold, rainy weather he dropped out with the flu after barely making the cut.
There was no word on whether the injury originated with his much-publicized car crash late last year, or whether Woods was in danger of missing the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in five weeks. More Tiger Woods: Life in Pictures | SI Covers | Tabloid Covers (Photo: Robert Beck/SI)