Woods withdraws from The Players after nine holes
“I’m having a hard time walking,” he said.
Woods shot a 42 on the front nine of the TPC Sawgrass, including a triple bogey on the fourth hole when he didn’t clear a water hazard 30 yards in front of him. He constantly walked some 20 yards behind his playing partner, holding his golf club for support, limping noticeably after each hole.
After taking a bogey on the par-5 ninth, he handed his scorecard to PGA champion Martin Kaymer, then walked back to inform Matt Kuchar that he was leaving early from The Players for the second straight year.
“Tiger looked like he was in pain today,” Kuchar said. “You could tell he was walking quite slowly, quite gingerly. He was just last to get to his ball every time.”
It was his first competition since the Masters, where Woods said he hurt his left knee and Achilles while hitting from the pine straw beneath Eisenhower tree on the 17th hole in the third round. Woods was briefly tied for the lead the next day and finished tied for fourth.
He described it as a “minor injury” when he skipped last week to give his leg time to heal, and said he was “surprised” that it acted up on him at The Players.
“The treatment’s been good,” he said. “It’s been getting better. But it just wasn’t enough.”
From the opening tee shot, he looked as bad as he ever has.
“The knee acted up and then the Achilles followed after that, and then the calf started cramping up,” Woods said. “Everything started getting tight, so it’s just a whole chain reaction.”
Swing coach Sean Foley, who was with Woods on the range Thursday morning, had been with another client when he got to the ninth hole and noticed Woods walking well behind Kaymer and Kuchar.
“That’s all I know. I haven’t talked to him,” Foley said.
Asked how he was on the range, Foley said Woods looked “fantastic.”
“This week I’ve been quite happy that he had that layoff and still looked quite a bit like the weekend at Augusta,” Foley said. “I don’t know. I don’t think it’s so much his swing as the walking, you know? It’s the whole thing. You get out of bed, you knows?”
The first hole could not have gone any worse for Woods.
He pulled his opening tee shot into the pine trees, leaving him a stance in the pine straw. Then he came up short of the green, his ball perched at the bottom of a steep bank that force another awkward stance.
“The pine straw didn’t help because my foot slipped, my left foot slipped,” Woods said. “It obviously would have probably felt better if it would have held.”
The rest of his nine holes was not much better, especially at No. 4. He said his knee “grabbed me” on a tee shot that sailed well left into the mounds, and he put his approach into the water. Then came a shocker of a shot – after taking a drop, his short pitch to a back pin hit the bulkhead and went back into the water. He had to make a 20-foot putt for triple bogey.
Even more remarkable – Woods didn’t hit a single green from his five tee shots that found the fairway.
“Nobody really knows how much pain he was in,” Kaymer said. “Of course, we hope that he gets well soon, that he gets out here again. It would have been nice to play another 27 with him. And he shot 6 over, but hopefully he can recover soon so he can play great golf again.”
The 42 was three shots higher than his previous worst 9-hole score at the TPC Sawgrass. His worst 9-hole score on the PGA Tour was a 43 on four occasions, the most recent on the back nine at Quail Hollow last year when he missed the cut.
This is the second straight year Woods has withdrawn in the middle of the round at The Players. He stopped on the seventh hole of the final round last year with what turned out to be a neck injury.
Woods is 35 and already has had four operations on his left knee. He said doctors told him he could play this week. He said he practiced for the first time since the Masters on Monday, and played golf for the first time on Tuesday – nine holes on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The more rest I get, the better it would be, obviously,” Woods said. “It’s a big event. I wanted to come back for it and play, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to finish.”
Woods said the two shots into the water on the fourth was more related to a bad swing than his leg, although the rest of the round it was clear something was wrong. From the middle of fairways, he came up well to the left on the fifth and the seventh holes, and another time came up some 15 yards short of his target on the sixth.
Woods got into his white Mercedes and left the TPC Sawgrass, not knowing what his next move would be.
“I just finished nine holes,” he said. “Give me a few days to see what the docs say, and we’ll take a look at it.”
That pursuit of the 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus looks further away with each setback. Woods remains at 14 from his U.S. Open title at Torrey Pines in 2008, which he won before having reconstructive surgery on his left knee.
Asked if he had any worries, Woods replied, “I know I have, but it’s just a matter of what we’re going to do about it.”
Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son
ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.
Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.
''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''
They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.
''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''
Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.
''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''
Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.
Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.
Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.
Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?
Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.
Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.
Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.