ORLANDO, Fla. -- Defending champion Tiger Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard on Tuesday, citing lingering back spasms.
"I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won't be able to play in his tournament this year," Woods said on his website. "I would like to express my regrets to the Orlando fans, the volunteers, the tournament staff and the sponsors for having to miss the event. Unfortunately, my back spasms and the pain haven't subsided."
The tournament host understood that Woods is battling health issues right now.
"I am certainly sorry that Tiger is not able to play," Palmer said in a statement. "Quite obviously, we will miss having him here this week. He called me to tell me that his back was still giving him a lot of trouble and he didn’t feel he should play. I told him I understood and wished him well.”
It is the second time in less than a month that back spasms have forced the 38-year-old Woods out of action.
Three weeks ago, he withdrew from the final round of The Honda Classic with just five holes to play. He was 5 over on the day and out of contention.
A week later, Woods again complained of lower back pain during the final round of the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. He finished that round but shot 78, the highest score he has had in a final round.
Woods' next scheduled start is in three weeks at the Masters.
"It's too early to know about the Masters, and I will continue to be evaluated and work closely with my doctors," Woods said. "I feel badly that I won't be able to play in this great tournament this week."
Woods has won at Bay Hill eight times, including last year when the tournament was forced to a Monday finish because of weather. Woods won by two strokes over Justin Rose and returned to No. 1 in the world with the victory.
This marks the the eighth time in Woods' career and fifth time in the last five years that he has withdrawn from a tournament. He is replaced in the field by Brice Garnett.
Woods has made just four starts this year but has only completed two of them. He missed the 54-hole cut at Torrey Pines and tied for 41st in his next start in Dubai before his withdrawal at PGA National and a tie for 25th at Trump National Doral.