Woods to Skip Palmer’s Bay Hill Event While Looking to Masters

Tiger Woods said he’ll skip next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, putting his appearance in next month’s Masters Tournament into question.

Woods, 39, continues to work on his golf game and recover from a back injury that on Feb. 5 forced him to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open, his most recent event, after 11 holes.

“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 until my game is tournament ready and I can compete at the highest level,” Woods said Friday in a statement on his website. “I hope to be ready for the Masters, and I will continue to work hard preparing for Augusta.”

The Masters, golf’s first of four annual Grand Slam events, is scheduled for April 9-12 at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Woods won the most recent of his four Masters titles in 2005 and has a lifetime exemption into the field as a former winner.

Instead of playing competitive golf, Woods has been undergoing physical therapy for a back injury that has hampered his play, while revamping his swing with coach Chris Como.

On Feb. 11, the 14-time major champion said he wouldn’t return to competition until he’s fit and his golf game is “tournament-ready.” While he had been targeting the Honda Classic, Feb. 26 to March 1, he also sat out that event.

When healthy in recent years, Woods’s playing schedule had included the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship in Miami and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. In addition to skipping the Honda Classic, he wasn’t ranked in the top 50 in the world so he was ineligible for the Miami event.

Palmer Understands

Palmer said in a statement that Woods called him to say his game wasn’t quite ready to return to the PGA Tour.

“He was disappointed that he won’t be able to play in the tournament, which has always meant a lot to him,” Palmer said. “I’m sorry that he won’t be playing. We’ll certainly miss him, but I understand and appreciated that he called me.”

Last year, Woods underwent surgery to repair a pinched nerve on March 31, a procedure that forced him to miss the Masters and U.S. Open, the first two major championships of the year. He said the current injury is unrelated to the surgery.

Over the past year, the former No. 1-ranked golfer has played in eight full-field events, missing the cut for weekend play three times, withdrawing three times and failing to finish better than 25th place.

Woods made his season debut Jan. 29 and missed the cut at the Phoenix Open after shooting an 11-over-par 82 in the second round, the worst score of his professional career. The next week, he withdrew during the first round at Torrey Pines.

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