Tiger Woods withdrew from entering this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament at Bay Hill.
On his official web page, the golf icon indicated that treatment for his surgically repaired back is going well, but did not say when he would return to the PGA tour.
Tiger’s absence from tournament play places further doubt on whether or not he can surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major wins. Woods, who owns 14 major championships, undoubtedly has his eye on the first major of the year, The Masters, less than a month away.
Tiger has not won a major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, where he miraculously defeated Rocco Mediate in a double playoff while hobbling on a double fracture in his tibia and a bum knee that would require surgery just one week later.
“Unfortunately, due to ongoing rest and rehabilitation on my back, I won’t be able to play in this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational,” Woods stated. “I’m especially disappointed because I wanted to be at Bay Hill to help honor Arnold. This is one event I didn’t want to skip. Arnold has meant so much to me and my family; I thought of him as a close friend, and Sam and Charlie were both born at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. He will be greatly missed and can never truly be replaced.”
Woods especially would like to play Bay Hill because the tournament comes less than one year after his hero Arnold Palmer passed away at the age of 87. After Palmer’s death in September, Woods said, “It’s hard to imagine golf” without Arnie and that there was not “anyone more important to the game than the King.”
Not only would Tiger like to play to honor his long time friend, but Woods has played fairly well in the past at the tournament. Tiger has 8 wins at Bay Hill. As Kyle Porter wrote about Tiger’s last win there in 2013, “Woods held off Rickie Fowler’s late-tournament surge and cruised to win No. 3 of the season as everybody tabbed him the heavy (heavy!) favorite for Augusta. He made you remember what automatic was like.”
What a difference 4 years has been for the winner of 79 PGA tournaments. Woods has gone from heavy favorite at Augusta to will he be able to tee it up? And if he can, will he make the cut?