LA JOLLA, Ca. — Tiger Woods suffered another setback Thursday at the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open, leaving midway through his round with an apparent injury.
It was the third time in his past nine tournaments, that Woods has withdrawn with a back injury.
Woods made it to the 12th green at Torrey Pines North course before calling it quits in the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
Despite last week saying he had no back issues since his return to competitive golf in December, Woods started showing signs of distress early in the round, favoring his lower back.
He later blamed it on the lengthy delay that pushed back the start of his round by more than two hours
“It just never loosened back up again,” Woods said during a 90-second media session before getting into his courtesy cart. “And when we went back out, it just got progressively tighter.”
Woods bogeyed two of his first three holes, again showing signs of the short-game woes that plagued him last week when he missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open — though he chipped in for par at the second.
But a birdie at the 16th, his seventh, and another at the first, his 10th, got him back to even par for the round.
Then he hit a series of poor shots at the par-4 second, including two poor pitch shots and a bad chip that set up a double bogey. After getting to the green at the par-3 third, his 12th, he decided to withdraw, shaking hands with fellow competitors Billy Horschel and Rickie Fowler.
“It’s frustrating that it started shutting down like that,” Woods said. “I was ready to go. I had a good warm-up session the fist 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.”
It is the sixth time Woods has withdrawn from a tournament due to injury in 304 PGA Tour starts, but all of them have occurred since 2010. Last year he withdrew during the final round of the Honda Classic with back problems, and a few weeks later had surgery to repair a disk in his lower back.
After three months away, he returned in June, but managed to play just four tournaments, only finishing four rounds in one at the Open Championship.
He withdrew during the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a back problem he said was unrelated to the surgery, then missed the cut the following week at the PGA Championship.
He then decided to shut it down for more than two months to allow his back and body to heal. He slowly resumed hitting balls in October and then returned in December at the Hero World Challenge, where he tied for last but showed promise with his swing under new instructor Chris Como.
But last week in Phoenix was a disaster. He shot a second-round 82, the highest of his career, to miss the 36-hole cut by 12 shots. It was just the 13th time he had missed a cut worldwide in his career.
Woods said he had not experienced any of these issues at any time in recent weeks.
“Usually don’t have to wait like this,” he said. “When I’m at home practicing keep going, keep going. This is different.”
Woods fell to 56th in the Official World Golf Ranking and is sure to drop farther now.
He needs to be in the top 50 in order to qualify for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral next month, although it is unclear when he might return. His next scheduled event is the Honda Classic which begins in three weeks.
On Wednesday, Woods said it was all about getting ready for the Masters in two months as he struggled through the issues with his game. Now he’s go this health to worry about — again.