WASHINGTON • Tiger Woods will miss planned US PGA Tour starts in this fortnight with ongoing back spasms, which forced him out the previous week in Dubai and have him questionable for the Masters.
The 14-time Major winner, trying to rebuild his career after back surgery that benched him for more than a year, pulled out of this week's Genesis Open at Riviera and next week's Honda Classic near his South Florida home.
"My doctors have advised me not to play for the next two weeks, to continue my treatment and to let my back calm down," Woods said on his website. "This is not what I was hoping for or expecting."
His statement said a "possible playing schedule" in March and beyond would be determined after his back has been reassessed, with time ticking as the Masters - the year's first Major tournament - looms from April 6 to 9 at Augusta.
The 41-year-old American, who has not taken a Major title since the 2008 US Open and last won any event at the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, has 79 career PGA triumphs, three shy of Sam Snead's record.
But Woods, a former world No. 1 who has slid to 674th in the rankings, has struggled since making a December return from a 16-month layoff following back surgeries in September and October of 2015.
The man who once strode above the sport pulled out of the Dubai Desert Classic with back spasms, after a birdie-less first-round 77 left him 13 shots off the lead.
He had missed the cut a week earlier, a once unthinkable scenario, at his first US PGA event of the year at Torrey Pines, a course where he has won eight titles.
Lacking a ranking high enough to play in WGC events next month in Mexico City and Austin, Texas, there are four PGA tournaments in which Woods could prepare for the Masters, but the only one in his usual rotation is the Arnold Palmer Invitational, set for March 16 to 19.
The others would be the Valspar Championship near Tampa the week before Bay Hill, the Puerto Rico Open the week after Bay Hill and the Houston Open the week before the Masters, when he usually skips tournaments in favour of practice.