Woods Withdraws From Players Championship

May 10th, 2010 by

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Tiger Woods withdrew on the seventh hole of Sunday’s final round at the Players Championship with a neck injury. He was two-over par through his first six holes and two under for the tournament.

Woods, who has a tenuous hold on his world No. 1 ranking, yanked his drive several yards to the right on the hole, and then took a few practice swings. Woods, who was paired with Jason Bohn, grimaced after hitting his second shot and instructed his caddie, Steve Williams, to pick up his ball.

“I’ve been playing with a bad neck for quite a while,” Woods said, adding, “I might have a bulging disk.”

Chris O’Meara/Associated Press
Tiger Woods during the final round of The Players Championship golf tournament. He withdrew from the competition with an injury.
Bohn, who made double bogeys on two of the first three holes on his way to an eight-over 80, said he noticed Woods stretching his neck on the first tee but did not see any other signs that he was in pain. He said he was surprised when Woods approached him near the seventh green, shook his hand and said, “I’m done.” Bohn said he asked Woods if he had tweaked his wrist on a shot on the previous hole.

“He said, ‘Well, no, it’s my neck,’” Bohn said. “I could tell when he shook my hand he stiffened up. When your neck hurts, it’s pretty severe. But you could tell when he was leaving he was in severe pain.”

If anybody could empathize with Woods, it was Bohn, who has had three back surgeries.

“We actually talked about that a little bit,” Bohn said, “because my time – it was the U.S. Open that Tiger won with all his knee problems was right when I blew out my back. And I tried to play through that, obviously, not to the success that he had.”

That conversation took place on the sixth hole, Bohn said, a hole before Woods would disclose his injury.

Woods, 34, underwent multiple knee surgeries in 2007 and 2008 and was sidelined for several months after winning the 2008 United States Open. The last time he withdrew from a tournament was the Nissan Open in Los Angeles in 2006, when he had the flu.

On Friday, after carding a 71, Woods was asked about his knee. “Knee’s good,” he said. Asked if he had any issues at all, Woods replied: “No. zero. Absolutely 100 percent.”

He did not appear to be in distress early in his round. After hitting his tee shot into a fairway bunker at the first hole, Woods walked down the fairway alongside Bohn and was smiling, leading a fan in the gallery to remark, “At least he’s in a better mood today.”

Woods, who missed the cut last week at Quail Hollow, has been in tunnel-vision mode this week, brushing past volunteers and fans after every round on his way to the clubhouse. On Saturday, one of the fans he passed, a young boy, shouted, “Hey, Tiger! Say so long to that No. 1 ranking. Kiss it goodbye!”

If Mickelson, who started the day five strokes behind the leader, Lee Westwood, wins, he would overtake Woods.

This injury comes at a time when Woods is struggling to work his way back into competitive form after a self-imposed five-month hiatus from the game following revelations of multiple infidelities.

Bohn said it would not surprise him if Woods has been hitting too many balls in too short a time to get his game ready for his return to the PGA Tour. Bohn said, “that’s what I did” after his back surgery.

He added: “I’m sure he’s practicing hard, he’s working hard. Yeah, I really feel for him.”

Woods, whose play has been ragged in the three tournaments since his return at the Masters, hit one fairway Sunday. He said he first began feeling neck pain before the Masters, where he tied for fourth.

Asked when it hurts, he said, “Backswing, downswing, follow through.”

He added: “I’m having a hard time with the pain. There’s tingling down my fingers.”

After changing out of his golf shoes, Woods disappeared into the PGA Tour’s fitness trailer, which has, in large black letters on its side, “Is knee pain holding you back?”

Several minutes later, he emerged and was whisked away in a black tournament sport-utility vehicle, his golf once again on hold.


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