*For the third time in his past nine tournaments, Tiger Woods has withdrawn with a back injury.
Woods made it to the green on his 12th hole Thursday at Torrey Pines North Course before calling it quits in the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open.
Despite saying last week he had no back issues since his return to competitive golf in December, Woods started showing signs of distress early in Thursday’s round, favoring his lower back.
He later blamed it on the lengthy fog delay that pushed back the start of his round by more than two hours.
“It just never loosened back up again,” Woods said during a 90-second media session before getting into his courtesy car. “And when we went back out, it just got progressively tighter.”
Woods, who started his round on the back nine, bogeyed two of his first three holes, again showing signs of the short-game woes that plagued him last week when he missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open — though he chipped in for par on his second.
But a birdie at the 16th, his seventh, and another at the first, his 10th, got him back to even par for the round.
Then he hit a series of poor shots at the par-4 second, including two pitch shots and a bad chip that set up a double-bogey. After getting to the green at the par-3 third, his 12th, he decided to withdraw, shaking hands with fellow competitors Billy Horschel and Rickie Fowler.
“It’s frustrating that it started shutting down like that,” Woods said. “I was ready to go. I had a good warm-up session the first time around. Then we stood out here and I got cold, and everything started deactivating again. And it’s frustrating that I just can’t stay activated. That’s just kind of the way it is.”
Woods fell to 56th in the World Golf Ranking this week and is sure to drop further now.
He needs to be in the top 50 in order to qualify for the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral from March 5-8, though it is unclear when he might return. His next scheduled event is the Honda Classic in three weeks.
On Wednesday, Woods said it was all about getting ready for the Masters in two months as he struggled through the issues with his game. Now he’s got his health to worry about — again.