A nagging back injury has derailed Tiger Woods in his quest to win at Bay Hill for a record ninth time.
Entering this week as the two-time defending champion at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods was slated to play the first two rounds alongside Harris English and Graeme McDowell. Instead, the 38-year-old tweeted late Tuesday that he will not play because of back spasms:
The injury is the same one that forced him to withdraw from the Honda Classic during the final round earlier this month, and Woods was clearly pained while completing play in his most recent start at Trump National Doral.
Woods called Palmer personally Tuesday afternoon to announce his withdrawal.
"I am certainly sorry that Tiger is not able to play. Quite obviously, we will miss having him here this week," said Palmer. "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' next anticipated start would be the Masters in three weeks, but a statement posted to his website explaining the withdrawal also raised the question of whether the injury will heal before the season's first major.
"It's too early to know about the Masters," Woods said. "I will continue to be evaluated and work closely with my doctors. I feel badly that I won't be able to play in this great tournament this week."
This marks just the second time that Woods has missed this event during his professional career. He also skipped it in 2010 during a lengthy absence from competition following his November 2009 car crash.