Eight-times champion Tiger Woods has withdrawn from this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando due to a neck strain, the former world number one said on Monday.
Woods, who returned to competition last season after a lengthy recovery from spinal fusion surgery, said he had been dealing with the strain for a few weeks and that he hoped to play in The Players Championship next week.
“I’ve been receiving treatment, but it hasn’t improved enough to play,” Woods said in a post on Twitter. “My lower back is fine, and I have no long-term concerns, and I hope to be ready for The Players.”
Woods did not say how he suffered the neck strain but there was nothing about his play at the WGC-Mexico Championship, where he tied for 10th eight days ago, to suggest he was not healthy.
In his only other starts this year, Woods finished in a share of 20th place at the Farmers Insurance Open in late January followed by a T15 at the Genesis Open in mid-February.
The injury is the first setback for Woods since he returned to regularly competing on the PGA Tour in January 2018, which marked the start of a remarkable comeback campaign he capped with a win in the Tour Championship season finale.
While the injury does appear to be anything serious it could garner more attention if he finds himself unable to tee it up at TPC Sawgrass next week for the PGA Tour’s flagship event, which is widely regarded as the unofficial fifth major.
Woods, who last won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2013, made a run at Bay Hill last year but finished five shots behind winner Rory McIlroy in a share of fifth place after his late charge fizzled with a pair of bogeys at the 16th and 17th holes.
“I’d like to send my regrets to the Palmer family and the Orlando fans,” wrote Woods. “Its connection to Arnold makes it one of my favorite tournaments and I’m disappointed to miss it.”
PGA Tour renames Rookie of the Year award after Arnold Palmer
The PGA Tour’s Rookie of the Year honour has been renamed after the late Arnold Palmer, one of golf’s greatest players whose immense popularity drew a legion of fans to the game.
The Arnold Palmer Award will be presented to the circuit’s most outstanding rookie, as voted on by the Tour’s membership.
“Arnold Palmer was golf’s greatest ambassador with his go-for-broke style of play, his charitable endeavors and his true passion and respect for the game and its fans,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement on Monday.
“A thumbs up, a wink, a carefully signed autograph, a thank you – simple gestures like these passed on by Mr Palmer to countless young players helped shape their character, on and off the golf course.
“The Arnold Palmer Award will now reflect those contributions in honoring the Tour’s most outstanding rookie.”
Palmer, whose immense popularity drew a legion of fans to the game at the dawn of the age of televised sport, died in September 2016 of heart complications aged 87.
He still ranks fifth on the PGA Tour list of all-time tournament wins with 62, including seven major championships.