PONTE VEDRA BEACH, May 10 – Tiger Woods withdrew from the Players Championship during the final round on Sunday citing a neck injury, the latest setback for the superstar still reeling in the wake of sex scandal."I’ve been playing with a bad neck for a while," said Woods, who was competing in just his third tournament of the year after revelations of extra-marital affairs exploded last November.
"I might have a bulging disk," said Woods, adding that he had been advised to have an MRI exam.
The 14-time major champion lasted less than seven holes before quitting at the Sawgrass TPC.
He was two-over for the round, two-under for the tournament when he withdrew.
"I’ve been playing through it. I can’t play through it any more," he said. "I know playing doesn’t help it.
"I’m having a hard time with the pain," added Woods, who in the past has shown he can play through plenty of pain, notably at the 2008 US Open which he won despite damaged left knee ligaments and two stress fractures in his left leg.
"There’s tingling down my fingers, just the right side," Woods said."Setting up over the ball is fine but once I start making the motion, it’s downhill from there."
Woods said he first felt the pain prior to last month’s Masters, where he finished tied for fourth in his first tournament of the year.
He didn’t mention the problem when he missed the cut last week in Charlotte.
After missing the fairway at the seventh hole, Woods called for a tournament official and shortly thereafter he shook hands with playing partner Jason Bohn and headed back to the locker room in a golf cart.
He spent about half an hour in a fitness trailer before departing the Sawgrass TPC.
The withdrawal is another blow for the 34-year-old, whose reputation was left in tatters last November when a mysterious late night car crash led to the tawdry tales of multiple extra-marital liasons.
Woods was hospitalized briefly in the wake of that accident, and said at the Masters that the injuries he suffered were "a busted-up lip and a pretty sore neck".
The scandal cost Woods some of his sponsors and a wealth of goodwill. Several US news outlets have reported that his wife Elin is preparing to file for divorce, something the player has yet to comment on.
Although his equal fourth at the Masters seemed like an encouraging return, Woods struggled mightily at the Quail Hollow Open in Charlotte, missing the cut by eight strokes as he posted a two-round total of 153 – the highest of his PGA Tour career.
The sixth missed cut of his career brought Woods to the Players holding on to the world number one ranking by the skin of his teeth.
A win by Masters champion Phil Mickelson and a finish by Woods outside of the top five would see Mickelson seize the top spot.
Mickelson gave himself a chance with a third-round 66 on Saturday but went into the final round five shots behind leader Lee Westwood of England.
As an amateur at the 1995 US Open Woods withdrew during a round after injuring his wrist hitting out of dense rough at Shinnecock Hills, the only other time he has pulled out during a round because of injury.
Woods last withdrew from a tournament in 2006, when he pulled out of the Nissan Open in Los Angeles after the second round because of the flu.