Lingering back spasms forced Tiger Woods to withdraw on Tuesday from this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, leaving his availability for next month’s Masters up in the air.
It’s the same injury that caused Woods to miss the final round of the Honda Classic three weeks ago, and hampered his play the next week at Doral, when he tied for 25th but was in obvious discomfort.
Now Woods has backed out of Bay Hill, an event he’s won a record eight times, including each of the last two years. The world’s top-ranked player issued a tweet on Tuesday afternoon announcing his decision, and also posted a message on his website.
“I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won’t be able to play in his tournament this year,” Woods said. “Unfortunately, my back spasms and the pain haven’t subsided.”
Woods is not expected to play in the Valero Texas Open next week or the Shell Houston Open the week after — he’s never played in either — putting his next scheduled start at the Masters, which starts three weeks from Thursday. But even Woods referenced the possibility he might not be healthy enough to play in the year’s first major, where he’s a four-time champion.
“It’s too early to know about the Masters, and I will continue to be evaluated and work closely with my doctors,” Woods said.
In three PGA Tour starts this season, Woods tied for 80th at Torrey Pines — missing the secondary cut after 54 holes — withdrew at Honda, then tied for 25th at Doral. He’s played just 10 competitive rounds in 2014, and is a combined 6 over par.Michael Whitmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.