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Tiger Woods still out with stiff back, will miss Arnold Palmer Invitational

Though he’s only played three times this season, Tiger Woods is “just not quite ready” to return to the course while dealing with back stiffness. (Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Fans will have to wait a bit longer to see Tiger Woods back out on the PGA Tour.

Woods will skip the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, a place he’s won eight times, next week for the second straight year while dealing with back pain.

“He is not going to play,” said Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg, via ESPN. “Back still stiff and just not quite ready.” 

Woods missed the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship last week with back stiffness, which hindered him at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles the week before. Woods finished in last place among those who made the cut at Riviera Country Club, a tournament where he doubled as host. He did not play at The Honda Classic this week, either.

“It's still disappointing, it's still frustrating, I'm still a little ticked,” Woods said after the Genesis Invitational, via the PGA Tour. “But I also look at it from a perspective which I didn't do most of my career, that I have a chance to play going down the road. A few years ago that wasn't the case.”

When will Tiger Woods play again?

Woods didn’t specify when he would take the course again and attempt to pick up win No. 83 on Tour, which would break his tie with Sam Snead for the most all-time.

He has, however, been shortening his schedule in recent years while battling numerous injuries.

The 44-year-old played just 12 times last season, and frequently jumped from major championship to major championship without competing elsewhere.

After winning The Masters last April, Woods failed to make the cut at the PGA Championship a month later. He missed the cut at The Open Championship, too, after finishing T21 at the U.S. Open. 

He’s talked about playing less, and doesn’t want to push too hard in his return from spinal fusion surgery before the 2018 season. His limit, he said, is about a dozen events per year. 

“You know, that's the fun part of trying to figure this whole comeback — how much do I play, when do I play, do I listen to the body or do I fight through it?” Woods said at the Genesis Invitational, via ESPN. “There are some things I can push and some things I can't. And so I had a theory this year that I may play about the same amount. What did I play, 12 times last year [during the 2018-19 season], and so that's kind of my number for the year.

“I can't play a lot more than that just because of the physical toll and I want to stay out here for just a little bit longer.”

Without the Arnold Palmer Invitational in play, Woods could return next at The Players Championship the following week at TPC Sawgrass, where he finished T30 last season and has won twice in his career. If his back still isn’t good to go by then, however, Woods will likely need to find at least one more event to compete in before The Masters in April — as a nearly two-month break ahead of the first major of the year isn’t ideal. 

That would leave the Valspar Championship and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin — where Woods finished T5 last year — as viable options before he has to defend his green jacket at Augusta National on April 9.

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