Tiger’s back knocks him out of Bay Hill (*Update)
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods
Sorry, Arnie
In somewhat of a shocking development Tuesday evening, Tiger Woods tweeted that he called tournament host Arnold Palmer to tell him that he had to pull out of Bay Hill, citing his nagging back injury. 

— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) March 18, 2014

Woods also released a statement via his website,

I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won’t be able to play in his tournament this year. 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.

It’s too early to know about the Masters, and 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.

Well, first of all, that’s a nice touch — for Tiger to *personally* call Mr. Palmer and let him know that he had to pull out. Second of all, there’s no way in hell he misses the Masters.

Woods withdrew after 13 holes at the Honda Classic due to lower back spasms. He was clearly in pain a week later at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, particularly during the final round, where he tweaked his back after hitting out of a fairway bunker with an awkward stance.

Afterward at Doral, Woods said he was looking forward to having a week off, so that he could receive the proper treatment.

“I mean, it was just one thing that set it off, and as I say, I had a quick turnaround from last week,” said Woods following his final-round 78 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship. “Normally, with things like this, you shut it down for a while and then get back up and get the strength and everything developed around it.

“So it will be nice to take this week off and get everything ready for Bay Hill.”

Clearly, the therapy didn’t work its magic and Tiger still didn’t feel well enough to play this week, but again, I think he’s just trying to play it safe, so that he’s OK for the Masters. (To clarify, I do think he’s hurting and that this is the right call.)

Woods has won eight times at Bay Hill. He will be replaced by Brice Garnett, who was next down the line on the alternates list (fifth). I’m sure fans are pumped to watch Garnett — along with the guys Tiger was supposed to play with, Harris English and Graeme McDowell — instead of Woods.

As a fellow sufferer of (chronic) back problems, I can empathize with Tiger and understand that sometimes you just need to take care of yourself and prioritize. I was also worried when I saw him clearly in pain during the final round at Doral. Backs are a funny thing — sometimes once you injure it, it’s just never the same again. Hopefully that’s not the case for him.

See you at Augusta, Tiger!

*Update at 6:15pm:

“I am certainly sorry that Tiger is not able to play,” said Arnold Palmer in a statement. “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.”

*Update at 6:04pm:

Tiger’s replacement tweets…


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