“I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won't be able to play in his tournament this year. … I feel badly that I won't be able to play in this great tournament this week.”
Woods, the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer, was forced to withdraw from the annual PGA Tour stop at Bay Hill Club due to persisting back spasms. Following Wednesday’s pro-am, the tournament tees off Thursday morning.
"I am certainly sorry that Tiger is not able to play,” said tournament host Arnold Palmer. “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."
This is just another setback in a season in which Woods has looked nothing like the best golfer in the world. He missed the third-round cut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, finished 41st at the Dubai Desert Classic, withdrew from the Honda Classic with back spasms and tied for 25th at the WGT event at Doral.
His appearance at Bay Hill had been in question until he announced over the weekend that treatments had gone well and that he would play this week and try to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the third straight year and the ninth time overall.
His condition must have worsened today, however, and now all of that is history. Concerns are now raised regarding the first major of the year, the Masters at Augusta National in three weeks. It is unclear whether or not Woods will be ready by then.
With Woods back home in South Florida, the favorite’s role this week at Bay Hill is split between Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell and Zach Johnson.
Featured pairings for round one include: 8:11 a.m., 10th tee – Watson, Brandt Snedeker, Rickie Fowler; 8:23 a.m., 10th tee – Patrick Reed, Scott, Rose; 12:56 p.m., 1st tee – Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Keegan Bradley.