March 4, 2019 / 8:17 PM / 2 months ago

Golf: Tiger withdraws from Arnold Palmer Invitational with neck strain

FILE PHOTO: Feb 24, 2019; Mexico City, MEX; Tiger Woods plays his shot from the second tee during the final round of the WGC - Mexico Championship golf tournament at Club de Golf Chapultepec. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) - Eight-times champion Tiger Woods has withdrawn from this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando due to a neck strain, the former world number one said on Monday.

Woods, who returned to competition last season after a lengthy recovery from spinal fusion surgery, said he had been dealing with the strain for a few weeks and that he hoped to play in The Players Championship next week.

“I’ve been receiving treatment, but it hasn’t improved enough to play,” Woods said in a post on Twitter. “My lower back is fine, and I have no long-term concerns, and I hope to be ready for The Players.”

Woods did not say how he suffered the neck strain but there was nothing about his play at the WGC-Mexico Championship, where he tied for 10th eight days ago, to suggest he was not healthy.

In his only other starts this year, Woods finished in a share of 20th place at the Farmers Insurance Open in late January followed by a T15 at the Genesis Open in mid-February.

The injury is the first setback for Woods since he returned to regularly competing on the PGA Tour in January 2018, which marked the start of a remarkable comeback campaign he capped with a win in the Tour Championship season finale.

While the injury does appear to be anything serious it could garner more attention if he finds himself unable to tee it up at TPC Sawgrass next week for the PGA Tour’s flagship event, which is widely regarded as the unofficial fifth major.

Woods, who last won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2013, made a run at Bay Hill last year but finished five shots behind winner Rory McIlroy in a share of fifth place after his late charge fizzled with a pair of bogeys at the 16th and 17th holes.

“I’d like to send my regrets to the Palmer family and the Orlando fans,” wrote Woods. “Its connection to Arnold makes it one of my favorite tournaments and I’m disappointed to miss it.”

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Ken Ferris

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