It’s official: Tiger Woods won’t return for the Honda Classic (and will miss Doral)
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods will miss next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National. This news doesn’t come as much of a surprise since he announced last week that he would be taking a leave of absence from competition because his game was not acceptable for tournament golf.

However, in the February 11th statement on his website, Woods didn’t completely rule out the possibility of playing the first stop of the Florida Swing, but it seemed unlikely he would return so quickly as he’s continuing to rehabilitate his back injury that forced him to withdraw after 11 holes from the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago.

The 39-year-old Woods said he’s been undergoing physical therapy for his back and added that this current injury is unrelated to the back surgery he went through last spring, which prevented him from competing for most of 2014 as he recovered. He’s also attended ski races in Vail, Colorado, to support his girlfriend Lindsey Vonn.

While Woods had until Friday evening to enter the Honda Classic, tournament officials said his agent Mark Steinberg reached out on Thursday to inform them that Tiger would not be playing in the event, which is near his home in Jupiter.

“I got a call this afternoon from Mark Steinberg on behalf of Tiger,” tournament director Ken Kennerly said in a statement. “He wanted to let us know that Tiger is not going to play in the Honda Classic. He has been working on his game this week and feels as though he is not tournament ready to play next week.

“We continue to wish Tiger a speedy recovery. Tiger has been great to the Honda Classic and we look forward to his return to tournament golf in the coming weeks, and to welcoming him again at The Honda Classic in future years.”

Woods has played in the event the last three years. He finished second in 2012, but last year he withdrew from the final round due to back pain.

Woods has made two starts this year. Aside from pulling out from Torrey Pines, he opened 2015 by missing the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open after shooting rounds of 73-82.

Woods, who has plummeted to no. 66 in the Official World Golf Rankings, is not eligible for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral the week after the Honda. In his statement last week, Woods said he expected to be “playing again very soon.” That means his next potential start would likely be near the end of March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, an event he’s won a record-tying eight times.

His latest back problems and ailing golf game threaten to hamper his preparation for the first major of the year, the Masters, held April 9-12. Hate to say this, but this pattern is starting to become a tradition unlike any other.

Ugh. Get well soon, Tiger.