Golf: Struggling Tiger Woods to miss Honda Classic

Former world number one Tiger Woods, who has vowed not to return to competition until his deteriorating game improves, won't play next week in the PGA Tour's Honda Classic. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Former world number one Tiger Woods, who has vowed not to return to competition until his deteriorating game improves, won't play next week in the PGA Tour's Honda Classic. -- PHOTO: AFP 

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Former world number one Tiger Woods, who has vowed not to return to competition until his deteriorating game improves markedly, won't play next week in the PGA Tour's Honda Classic.

The 39-year-old American, chasing Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major championships, has plummeted to 66th in the world rankings after suffering a series of injuries and a severe slump in form.

"We continue to wish Tiger a speedy recovery," said Ken Kennerly, executive director of the tournament in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

"Tiger has been great to the Honda Classic and we look forward to his return to tournament golf in the coming weeks, and to welcoming him again at the Honda Classic in future years."

In his statement on Thursday, Kennerly said that Woods's agent Mark Steinberg had notified the tournament that the 14-time major champion wouldn't play.

Woods could now target a comeback at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on March 19-22.

He used his website on Feb 11 to say he was taking a break from tournament golf in a bid to get his faltering game in shape.

However, he had held out the possibility that he would be ready to return for next week's tournament, which is near his home in Jupiter, Florida.

He had until Friday to confirm his entry.

Woods's announcement last week came after a disastrous fortnight which included a career-worst round of 82 and last-placed finish at the Phoenix Open and a mid-round withdrawal at Torrey Pines with a bad back.

They are just the latest setbacks in a turbulent career marked by marital infidelity and mounting injuries.

His lowly ranking means he won't qualify for the World Golf Championships event at Doral on March 5-8.

The only other time Woods has failed to qualify for an elite WGC event was when he missed the 2011 HSBC Champions.

He is also an increasing doubt for the first major of 2015, the Masters, at Augusta National on April 9-12.

Woods has won the Masters four times, but has never donned a green jacket without first winning a tournament earlier that season.