ORLANDO, Fla. – Even after his stunning win at last year's Masters, Tiger Woods warned that he would always be careful with his surgically repaired back for the rest of his career. Because Woods played only 12 tournaments in 2019, the decision was considered sensible and raised few eyebrows.
However, less than three months in a new wave year, it is clear that Woods' bare back really inhibits him. On Friday, Woods withdrew from next week's Players Championship, the flagship event of the PGA Tour, with the strongest field of golf and the largest prize money – $ 15 million.
"Back just not ready," Mark Steinberg, agent of Woods, told ESPN Friday in a text message, the last day that Woods had to commit to the Players Championship. Steinberg added: "Not with regard to the long term, but not ready."
Steinberg made a similar explanation for Woods' decision not to enter Arnold Palmer Invitational this week.
Woods later posted on Twitter that he regretted that I could not attend the Players Championship. "I have to listen to my body and rest well if needed," his tweet said. "My back is just not ready to play next week."
The withdrawal from the Players Championship, which Woods has won twice, means that he will go about a month without playing competitively – and that is when he enters the Valspar championship outside of Tampa, which starts on March 19 . The Masters, which Woods has won five times, starts on April 9.
There have been signs for weeks that Woods' back, which has undergone four operations, got him into trouble.
Woods, 44, admitted that he felt stiffness back at the Genesis Invitational in Southern California three weeks ago, and much more, he was playing worse due to the closing of the event. Woods opened 69 with a first round and then had rounds of 73, 76 and 77 to finish last with the players who made the cut. He also did not play at the beginning of the week of Genesis.
At that time, Woods attributed some of his back issues to his daily responsibilities as the host of the tournament.
Similarly, he raised few alarms by skipping the World Golf Championship event in Mexico at the end of February. and last week's Honda Classic; it seemed as if he just let his body rest as he had in 2019. But missing Palmer Invitational this week was a surprise because Woods has won the tournament eight times. And rejecting the Players will raise concerns about Woods' ability to prepare well for the Masters, which begins on April 9.
In addition to the Valspar Championship, Woods was able to organize two other events for the Masters: the WGC-Dell Technologies in Austin, Texas, a competition to play, and the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.
"I feel stiff, but I have such weeks, especially in the cold mornings, like in the old days & # 39; Woods said after the third round of Genesis." I don't move at all, and that is just a bit how it will go. "
Woods started this year in a seemingly good form. He finished ninth at the Farmers Insurance Open at the end of January. That result followed a successful trajectory in the fall of 2019 when Woods won the Zozo Championship for his 82nd PGA Tour victory, remained unbeaten in three games at the Presidential Cup and finished fourth at the Hero World Championship.
Genesis Event, Woods was almost philosophical about the challenges of the He said: "That's the nice thing about trying to figure out this whole comeback – how much do I play, when do I play, do I listen to the body or do I fight through it? There are some things I can push and some things that i n not possible. There is a physical toll and I want to stay here for a while. "