A nagging back injury has derailed Tiger Woods in his quest to win at Bay Hill for a record ninth time.
Entering this week as the two-time defending champion at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods was slated to play the first two rounds alongside Harris English and Graeme McDowell. Instead, the 38-year-old tweeted late Tuesday that he will not play because of lingering back spasms:
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
The injury is the same one that caused him to withdraw during the final round of the Honda Classic earlier this month, and Woods was clearly pained while competing in his most recent start at Trump National Doral.
Woods called Palmer personally Tuesday afternoon to announce his withdrawal.
"I am certainly sorry that Tiger is not able to play. Quite obviously, we will miss having him here this week," Palmer in a statement. "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' next anticipated start would be the Masters in three weeks, but a statement posted to his website explaining the withdrawal raised questions.
"It's too early to know about the Masters," Woods said. "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."
This marks just the second time that Woods has missed the Arnold Palmer Invitational during his professional career. He also skipped it in 2010 during a lengthy absence from competition following his November 2009 car crash.