Tiger Woods wrote on his website Friday that he told Arnold Palmer that he would not play at the Arnold Palmer Invitational this year.
“I’ve put in a lot of time and work on my game and I’m making strides, but like I’ve said, I won’t return to the PGA Tour until my game is tournament ready and I can compete at the highest level,” Woods wrote. “I hope to be ready for the Masters, and I will continue to work hard preparing for Augusta.”
“I certainly understand him wanting to stay away as long as (his game is) hurting and he’s not feeling up to speed,” Palmer said Friday.
The last time Woods went into the Masters cold, in 2010, he worked his way into contention on the weekend and tied for fourth.
It’s possible Woods could play in San Antonio and/or Houston the following two weeks, but he hasn’t played in the former event since his rookie year, 1996, and has never played the latter.
Five years ago, Woods’ game was also in a much better state. He had just come off a six-win season and a runner-up at the PGA Championship.
In two starts this year, Woods missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he shot a career-worst 82 and hit some startling poor chip shots, and lasted just 11 holes at the Farmers Insurance Open before withdrawing, saying that his “glutes deactivated” during a lengthy fog delay.
Afterward, he said he would not return to competition until his game was ready. That was just over a month ago. He hasn’t played since.
Whether Woods will be ready to go at Augusta National this year is even an unknown. However, his agent told ESPN.com in February, “I think Tiger would tell you he’d be shocked if he wasn’t at the Masters.”
This marks the second straight year Woods won’t play in Arnold Palmer’s tournament. He missed last year’s event because of lingering back spasms and two weeks later underwent surgery to repair a pinched nerve in his back. He was out for nearly three months and didn’t play in the Masters for the first time in his career.
Woods made just seven starts in 2014, missing the cut or withdrawing from four of them. He parted ways with coach Sean Foley in August and later hired Chris Como as a swing consultant.
In December, making his first start in four months, Woods tied for last in the 18-man Hero World Challenge at Isleworth Country Club, where he finished 26 strokes behind winner Jordan Spieth.
Woods, who will turn 40 at the end of this year, last won a major, his 14th, in 2008. His last victory at the Masters was in 2005. He finished in the top six each of the following six years, including second in 2007 and 2008, but has had mixed results since, tying for 40th in 2012, fourth in 2013 and missing last year’s tournament.