ORLANDO: Tiger Woods could miss next month’s Masters after pulling out of the PGA Tour Arnold Palmer Invitational because of recurring back problems.
The 38-year-old American has been struggling for weeks with back spasms and pain and said on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) that he will not defend his title at this week’s $6.2 million Arnold Palmer tournament.
“It’s too early to know about the Masters and I will continue to be evaluated and work closely with my doctors,” Woods said on his website.
“Unfortunately, my back spasms and the pain haven’t subsided. I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won’t be able to play in his tournament this year.
“I would like to express my regrets to the Orlando fans, the volunteers, the tournament staff and the sponsors for having to miss the event.”
The Masters runs from April 10 to 13.
Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record of 18 won by Jack Nicklaus, has not won a major since the 2008 US Open.
But his injury woes are mounting and he withdrew during the final round of the Honda Classic three weeks ago because of the back problem and has made just four starts this season.
His best finish is a tie for 25th place at the WGC-Cadillac Championship two weeks ago.
Woods failed to make the secondary cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and tied for 41st at the Dubai Desert Classic.
“I am certainly sorry that Tiger is not able to play,” Palmer said. “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.”
Woods claimed his second consecutive Arnold Palmer title last year, becoming only the second player to win the same tournament eight times after Sam Snead, who won eight Greater Greensboro Open titles.