LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Golf superstar Tiger Woods tweeted a simple message on Monday (March 16) in his first public comments on the coronavirus pandemic put his Masters title defence on indefinite hold.
"There are a lot more important things in life than a golf tournament right now," Woods said in a Twitter post.
"We need to be safe, smart and do what is best for ourselves, our loved ones and our community."
Woods won his 15th major title at the Masters last April, ending an 11-year major drought after a marriage-ending scandal and career-threatening injuries.
But golf has been no exception as the sports world has ground to a virtual halt in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, and Augusta National Golf Club announced last week that the 2020 Masters would not take place April 9-12.
The US PGA Tour had already cancelled a string of tournaments leading up to the Masters.
And it looked like the sports shutdown would continue for some time after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday recommended cancelling or postponing "large gatherings" of 50 or more people for eight weeks.
As the cancellations unfolded last week, Woods was already sidelined. He opted to skip the Players Championship - which was abruptly halted after one round because of coronavirus concerns - with a stiff back.
"I have to listen to my body and properly rest when needed," Woods tweeted before the Players. "My back is simply just not ready ..."
He had already opted out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Honda Classic and WGC Mexico.
Woods last teed it up at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera in Los Angeles in February, finishing 68th.