*Tiger Woods’ big return to The Players Championship lasted only nine holes Thursday.
The golfer withdrew from the tournament because of pain in his left knee and Achilles, but not before taking 42 shots for his worst nine-hole score on the TPC Sawgrass course, reports the AP.
Woods flexed his left knee after hitting tee shots. He took baby steps to climb out of a bunker. He walked with a golf club for support, lagging a football field behind his playing partners with a noticeable limp. His quickest steps were to catch up to Martin Kaymer on the way to the 10th tee to tell him he was done.
“The knee acted up, and then the Achilles followed after that, and then the calf started cramping up,” Woods said. “Everything started getting tight, so it’s just a whole chain reaction.”
Asked if he should have walked off the course earlier, Woods replied, “Probably.”
Woods had not played since the Masters, when he said he hurt his knee and Achilles after hitting from the pine straw beneath Eisenhower Tree in the third round. Woods briefly tied for the lead the next day and finished tied for fourth.
He described it as a minor injury two weeks ago when saying that he would skip the Wells Fargo Championship last week, and his coach, Sean Foley, said he had been walking in a protective boot.
Woods did not practice after the Masters until Monday. He did not play golf until Tuesday at Sawgrass — nine holes, then another nine holes on Wednesday. It was not ideal preparation on a course he does not particularly enjoy.
Woods typically would next play the Memorial in three weeks, with the U.S. Open at Congressional — a course on which he won two years ago at his AT&T National — starting June 15.
Woods has no idea when he can return.
“I just finished nine holes,” he said. “Give me a few days to see what the docs say, and we’ll take a look at it.”