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Tiger Woods pulls out of Bay Hill because of back pain

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Tiger Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Tuesday because of persistent pain in his back, creating even more uncertainty for golf's No. 1 player with the Masters only three weeks away.

And that's if Woods can even play in the Masters.

"I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won't be able to play in his tournament this year," Woods said on his website.

"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."

Woods had to withdraw after 13 holes of the final round at the Honda Classic three weeks ago because of what he called back spasms and pain in his lower back. He tried to defend his title the following week at Doral, only for his back to flare up again in the final round. He closed with a 78, the highest Sunday score of his PGA Tour career and the first final round without a birdie.

After a week of rest and treatment, he didn't feel fit to play Bay Hill, where he is an eight-time winner, including the past two years.

"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."

This is only the second time that Woods has not played Bay Hill. He also missed in 2010 when he sat out more than four months during the scandal in his personal life.

The Masters, which is April 10-13, is the only major Woods has never missed.

"It's too early to know about the Masters, and I will continue to be evaluable 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."

Woods first showed signs of back pain at Bethpage Black at The Barclays in 2012, which he attributed to a soft bed at his hotel. He felt twinges during the final round of the PGA Championship last year, and when his back bothered him in the final round of The Barclays two weeks later, he said it was unrelated.

This has been the longest sustained problem with the lower back. "A bad back is no joke," Woods said at Doral.

Woods is off to the worst start of his 18 years on tour.

At Torrey Pines, where his eight victories included a U.S. Open, Woods shot his highest score on American soil with a 79 to miss the 54-hole cut. He tied for 41st in the Dubai Desert Classic a week later for his worst finish in that event.

Woods had said he spent his offseason working on his body and didn't spend enough time on his game, so it was troubling for him to then deal with yet another injury. He shot a 65 in the third round of the Honda Classic before having what he described as back spasms similar to The Barclays last year.

At Doral, he was only three shots out of the lead going into the final round and in the penultimate group when he said an awkward stance while playing out of a bunker on the sixth fairway of the Blue Monster caused his back to start hurting again.

"That's what set it off and then it was done after that," Woods said at Doral. "Just see if I could actually manage ... keep the spasms at bay."

Woods had said at the start of the Florida swing that he was taking a look at his schedule leading up to the Masters, though he never made it clear if he intended to add another tournament. Woods rarely gives a "yes" or "no" to questions pertaining to his plans.

He has never played the week before any major except for the PGA Championship.

In 2010, after revelations of extramarital affairs, Woods had gone 145 days without hitting a meaningful shot when he arrived at Augusta National. He opened with a 68, his lowest first-round score ever at the Masters, and wound up in a tie for fourth.

Swing coach Sean Foley said he would not read too much into how Woods can prepare for the Masters if he can play.

"I've been coaching on tour long enough now to know that Tuesday doesn't affect Wednesday. There's no rhyme or reason to performance," Foley said in a telephone interview. "Tiger is always about the majors, and he's solely about the majors now. He's got to do the right thing. He's just doing the right due diligence about it."

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100 DOLLAR BILLS March 19 2014 at 6:21 PM

ever have back spasms,you would drop to your knees too,and you could'nt go 1 round with woods before they threw you off the course laughing !

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madkono March 18 2014 at 8:01 PM

oh my God, whats this world coming to??? i won't be able to sleep...EVER!!! this is terrible, i've run out of stupid things to say about this stupid article!!!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
bandit11996699 March 18 2014 at 7:56 PM

I personally don't have a problem with Tiger being out. Now, instead of all the focus on him (even when he's stinking up the golf course), we get to see all these great young players that are up and coming (no pun intended).

Flag Reply +2 rate up
tc123242 March 18 2014 at 7:46 PM

Tell Lindsay to stop demanding so much…..

Flag Reply +2 rate up
rnichols005700 March 18 2014 at 7:46 PM

Why do you people still think that Tiger Wood is god gifts to golf.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
3 replies
skidrowtom March 18 2014 at 7:45 PM

He pulls out early. I guess that's why Eldrick has a lot of girl friends.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Jim March 18 2014 at 7:38 PM

J. Christ.
Go to a great back doctor, get an operation and FIX IT!
I'm twice his age, my back has bothered me all of my life.
Had it done a year ago and with all of the rest of that's wrong with me, my back is now FINE!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
ht4cycle Jim March 18 2014 at 8:13 PM

Being the Little League Fenom that you were probably, you have no idea what it takes to put the body through swinging a golf club with the torque and velocity that he does. Try this. Go out in your back yard and hit 500 golf balls using your driver without a break. Then when you are done with that, hit 500 using your 3 wood. then your 3 iron and so on and so forth. Tomorrow go play 18 with 500 bucks riding on each hole agains the best player at that course. Do it 4 days in a row. Then go back to the practice tee each evening and hit some more balls. This time ohnly 300 with each club. Tell me how your back is going to feel after a week. Now how about after 15 years. You cant surgery this kind of problem away. Putt Putt doesn't count Jim.

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Mark March 18 2014 at 7:28 PM

Tiger missing Bay Hill, so what. Missing the Masters however, big deal!

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tneill1031 March 18 2014 at 7:28 PM

Stick a fork in him.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
jmason7708 tneill1031 March 18 2014 at 8:19 PM

even if he never plays another round he has given us a thrilling ride and itll be a long time before any one comes close to his records

Flag Reply 0 rate up
zorro205 March 18 2014 at 8:07 PM

he is such a loser all the way around he should just stop now

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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