PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. | Tiger Woods pulled out of his next two tournaments because of ongoing back problems, a somber outlook for a 14-time major champion whose comeback barely lasted three tournaments before another setback.
Woods said Friday on his website that he was still coping with back spasms that he attributed to his withdrawal from the Dubai Desert Classic last week.
“My doctors have advised me not to play the next two weeks to continue my treatment and to let my back calm down,” Woods said. “This is not what I was hoping for or expecting.”
The Tiger Woods Foundation now runs the Genesis Open in Los Angeles, and Woods was expected to play Riviera next week for the first time since 2006. He also withdrew from the Honda Classic near his home in Florida.
Woods said he would still go to Riviera to support the tournament.
Woods was out of golf for 15 months while recovering from three back surgeries — the first one a week before the 2014 Masters, the most recent in October 2015 — and returned with high hopes at an unofficial event in the Bahamas the first week in December. Woods made 24 birdies to offset a litany of mistakes and finished 15th in an 18-man field.
His return to a full field didn’t last long. Woods didn’t make the cut at Torrey Pines, and lasted only one round at Dubai, where he shot 77 and walked gingerly on the putting greens and climbing out of bunkers. He cited back spasms the next day when he withdrew.
Earlier in the week, Woods said in a promotional interview that he didn’t think he would “ever feel great” again because of the surgeries. The interview was with Peter Dawson, the former R&A chief executive who now promotes golf in Dubai.
“I feel good, not great,” Woods said in the interview. “Granted, I don’t think I’ll ever feel great because it’s three back surgeries, four knee operations. I’m always going to be a little sore. It’s just the way it is. As long as I can function, and function at a good enough level, I’m fine with that.”
Woods won the last of his 14 majors at Torrey Pines in the 2008 U.S. Open, and then he was out for the next eight months after reconstructive knee surgery. The last of his 79 PGA Tour victories was in August 2013 at the Bridgestone Invitational.
His statement didn’t indicate when he would return, but because Woods has been out of golf for so long — he is No. 674 in the world — he is not eligible for two of the World Golf Championships in March.
That would leave either the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook on March 9-12 — an event he has never played — or the Arnold Palmer Invitational the following week at Bay Hill, where he has won eight times. Woods has never played the week before the Masters.
At Torrey Pines, and in the interview at Dubai, Woods said his focus was getting ready for Augusta National.
“The whole plan was to get body, mind and spirit ready for the first week in April,” he said.