As though this week hadn’t been trying enough for Tiger Woods, things got worse early in his final round on Sunday, and the former world No. 1 was forced to withdraw from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational citing lower back pain.
Woods had been battling a two-way miss over the last few days, missing fairways with alarming frequency with either a snap hook or a wide, push slice. Really, even when he was able to get his iron play under control and hit greens, his putting was way below his standard as well. He was three over through eight holes on Sunday, and four over for the tournament, leaving him 18 shots behind leader Sergio Garcia, who had yet to tee off.
Woods claimed that he tweaked his back after hitting from the rough on the second hole and stumbling back into a nearby bunker.
“It happened on the second hole when I hit my second shot, I fell back into the bunker. I just jarred it, and it’s been spasming ever since,” Woods told an official when he made the decision to withdraw. “It’s just the whole lower back. I don’t know what happened.”
Any injury would be a bad thing for Woods at this point, but even worse is that it’s the same back troubles seeming to flare up that led to his surgery earlier this year. That injury cost him the Masters and the U.S. Open, and now it looks like it may cost him a chance to play in the PGA Championship next week at Valhalla. He was understandably noncommittal about his outlook as he was asked leaving Firestone, saying that he was “just trying to get out of here.”
All things considered, that really might not be a bad thing. At 38, Woods seems to be constantly battling injuries, and even when he says he’s feeling as good as ever, one wrong swing or stumble is apparently all it takes to set him back even further. If he’s serious about contending for majors and continuing to play for years to come, a little more time off to truly rehab would be a huge step in the right direction.