Tiger Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational Tuesday, citing back spasms.
“I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won’t be able to play in his tournament this year,” Woods wrote on his website, TigerWoods.com. “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. Unfortunately, my back spasms and the pain haven’t subsided.”
Brice Garnett has replaced Woods in the field.
Woods was trying for his ninth victory at the event, which begins Thursday at Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Fla. (Check out tournament tee times and pairings here.)
Palmer, the tournament host, responded in a statement: “I am certainly sorry that Tiger is not able to play. 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.”
As for Woods’ next start, many anticipate it to come in three weeks at the Masters, but Woods added that his status for Augusta National is uncertain.
“It’s too early to know about the Masters, and I will continue to be evaluated and work closely with my doctors,” Woods said. “I feel badly that I won’t be able to play in this great tournament this week.”
Earlier this month, Woods withdrew from the Honda Classic after three rounds because of the back injury and struggled to a tie for 25th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship two weeks ago. The last time he didn’t play at Bay Hill was in 2010.
Woods has played only 14 stroke-play rounds in 2014, including a tie for 41st in the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour. The slow start to the season for him comes after he won five Tour events last year. However, Woods once again failed to win a major championship – his last victory in golf’s majors came at the 2008 U.S. Open – and remains four short of Jack Nicklaus’ record 18.