What a pain in the butt: Tiger Woods withdraws due to back injury
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods withdrew from the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open while playing the 12th hole at Torrey Pines’ North Course. It’s the third time in nine tournaments that Woods was forced to pull out of a tournament due to a back injury.

While Woods claimed last week in his 2015 debut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open (where he missed the cut) that he was physically healthy, he started grimacing and wincing in pain early in Thursday’s round.

Woods said that his back started bothering him during a long fog delay that postponed play by more than two hours.

“I guess between those two suspensions (of play),” said Woods in the parking lot after withdrawing. “When we had that break. It just never loosened back up again. And when we went back out, it just got progressively tighter.”

Woods, who started on no. 10, showed more of the short game problems that tormented him last week in Phoenix. He kicked off his round with a bogey on his first hole after he missed the green and then bladed a chip way past the pin. However, he rebounded with a chip-in for par on his second hole. He bogeyed the next hole before making three straight pars. Although he birdied the 16th, he was up-and-down throughout the day. He posted a one-over 37 on his first nine.

The last hole he finished was his 11th, the par-4 no. 2. He hit two poor pitch shots and then topped it off with another bad chip, which led to a double-bogey — it was the first time he had made worse than a par in his professional career on that particular hole. He reached the green on the par-3 no. 3 before he decided to call it quits and shook hands with his fellow playing partners, Rickie Fowler and Billy Horschel.

“It’s frustrating that it started shutting down like that,” said Woods, who was two-over through 11. “I was ready to go. I had a good warm-up session the first time around. Then we stood out here and I got cold, and everything started deactivating again. And it’s frustrating that I just can’t stay activated. That’s just kind of the way it is.”

Woods explained that the problem was he couldn’t activate his gluteal muscles.

“It’s just my glutes are shutting off,” he said. “Then they don’t activate and then, hence, it goes into my lower back. So, I tried to activate my glutes as best I could, in between, but just they never stayed activated.”

Tiger said that he hadn’t endured any issues similar to this most recent problem with his back in the past couple of weeks.

“Usually don’t have to wait like this,” he said. “When I’m at home practicing I keep going, keep going, this is different.”

In 304 PGA Tour starts, this is the sixth time Woods has withdrawn due to injury, but all of them have happened since 2010. After missing the cut last week, he dropped out of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings to no. 56. He will likely fall farther down now, which will impact his tournament schedule. He needs to be ranked in the top 50 to qualify for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral on March 5-8.

While it’s unclear when he’ll return, Tiger’s next scheduled start is in three weeks at the Honda Classic.

This sure feels a bit like deja vu from last year, unfortunately. It was only on Wednesday that Woods said everything he was working on was geared to being prepared and ready for the Masters in April. Now, it sounds like he has other problems to worry about than just his short game woes.