Tiger Woods has won the Arnold Palmer Invitational eight times in his career. Victory No. 9 won't be coming this week.
On Monday afternoon, Woods announced on Twitter that he is withdrawing from the Bay Hill event, as the 14-time major winner is dealing with a neck issue.
"Unfortunately due to a neck strain that I’ve had for a few weeks, I'm forced to withdraw from the API," Woods wrote. "I’ve been receiving treatment, but it hasn't improved enough to play. My lower back is fine, and I have no long-term concerns, and I hope to be ready for The Players.
"I'd like to send my regrets to the Palmer family and the Orlando fans. Its connection to Arnold makes it one of my favorite tournaments and I'm disappointed to miss it."
Woods dealt with a similar strain last year at the Open Championship, showing up for his first round with KT Tape on his neck. It proved not to be much of a hinderance at Carnoustie, as Woods flirted with the claret jug before ultimately finishing T-6.
Woods was listed as one of the tournament favorites at 9-1 odds; only Rory McIlroy (8-1) had a lower figure. It marks his first withdraw since exiting the 2017 Dubai Desert Classic with back spasms.
Since returning from his fourth back procedure at the Hero World Challenge in December of 2017, Woods has not suffered any serious injury setbacks. In three appearances this year, Woods had posted finishes of T-20 at Torrey Pines, T-15 at Riviera and T-10 at Chapultepec.
As for the question of whether this neck condition is cause for concern, experts say not necessarily — even if is indirectly tied to the back injuries that temporarily derailed Woods' career.
“I don’t think it’s anything major,” says Dr. Ara Suppiah, a physician to several PGA Tour players. “I’d say most likely it’s a muscular issue and here’s why: If you have a fused spine, different parts of the body suddenly have to pick up the slack for that lack of mobility, and those compensations can lead to issues in other places. And a neck issue is a real issue for a golfer. The head stays still for a good portion of the swing but not all of it. And when it does have to move, any pain or discomfort can really affect the golf swing.”
At last year's API, Woods made a Sunday charge before an out-of-bounds drive on the 15th submarined his chances.
With the WD, Woods will now miss the API for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
The Players Championship is next week. Woods has won the tour's flagship event twice, the most recent victory coming in 2013.