Tiger withdraws from THE NORTHERN TRUST
August 09, 2019
By Ben Everill and Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- August 09, 2019
- Tiger Woods has withdrawn from THE NORTHERN TRUST with oblique strain. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
LIBERTY CITY, N.J. – Tiger Woods has withdrawn from THE NORTHERN TRUST with an oblique strain, but remains hopeful of keeping his FedExCup dreams alive.
Woods suffered back stiffness during Wednesday’s Pro-Am and then struggled to a 4-over 75 in the opening round at Liberty National on Thursday.
He was due to return for Friday’s second round, but pulled out before his tee time after failing to respond well enough to treatment.
“Due to a mild oblique strain that led to pain and stiffness, I have to withdraw from THE NORTHERN TRUST. I went for treatment early Friday morning, but unfortunately I’m still unable to compete,” Woods said via a statement.
“I’d like to thank the New Jersey and New York fans for their support and remain hopeful I can compete next week at the BMW Championship.”
Woods started the FedExCup Playoffs in 28th place on the points list. He is now projected to drop outside the top 30 before next week’s event at Medinah Country Club. As such, if he is unable to compete in Chicago, his season would be over.
He is the only two-time winner of the FedExCup having won the season long race in 2007 and 2009. If he does turn up at Medinah he will need to earn enough points to jump back into the top 30 on the standings. Over the 12 previous seasons the average number of players who have played their way in from outside the mark is 2.8.
The 81-time PGA TOUR winner famously won the TOUR Championship at East Lake a year ago where the fans flooded the final fairway to follow Woods as he completed his first victory since 2013. Since then he added to his resume with a fifth green jacket at the Masters.
Thursday at Liberty National was just his 13th competitive round, and fifth tournament since the Masters win in April. It is the first time he has withdrawn during a tournament since the Farmers Insurance Open in 2015. Woods withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard earlier this season with a neck complaint, but it came before competition began.
“It just feels frustrating to shoot anything high no matter how I feel,” Woods said after Thursday’s round.
Prior to THE NORTHERN TRUST Woods shot 78-70 at The Open Championship and missed the cut. Over the last few months he has tried to manage a body that has faced four back surgeries, including spinal fusion.
“I learned a lot last year by playing too much. Coming back from my procedure and not really knowing what to expect, I pushed it pretty hard,” Woods said earlier this week.
“I vowed I would never do that again. … Now we have a more condensed season and it’s trying to figure out how to stay sharp, practice and also have my back feeling good all the time. It’s a challenge.”
It continues Woods rollercoaster relationship with Liberty National. The 43-year-old was runner-up in his previous two trips in the 2009 and 2013 editions of THE NORTHERN TRUST. The latter was where he first showed signs of the back pain that would cripple him for several years.
Heath Slocum holed a 20-foot par putt on the final hole to nip Woods by a shot in the 2009 NORTHERN TRUST. Slocum started the tournament ranked 124th in the FedExCup and 197th in the world ranking.
Adam Scott beat Woods by a stroke four years later. Woods collapsed to his knees while hitting a fairway wood on the 13th hole of the final round. He said he was having back spasms caused by a soft mattress in his hotel room.
Woods also was at Liberty National two years ago as a captain’s assistant for Steve Stricker at the Presidents Cup. It was at a pre-tournament press conference that he admitted his back problems made it difficult to ride in a car and that he didn’t know “what the future holds for me.”
Woods is the U.S. Presidents Cup captain this year. He held a dinner for potential team members on Tuesday. He is 12th in the standings, but earlier in the week said his appearance as a player at Royal Melbourne is not a certainty. Friday’s injury puts a further question mark on things.
The top eight in the standings after next week’s BMW Championship earn spots on the team. Woods will make four captain’s picks after the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
Despite his Masters heroics, the reality for Woods is the rest of his career is likely to be punctuated by back issues. He is just one PGA TOUR win away from joining Sam Snead with the most of all-time and three majors away from joining Jack Nicklaus’ record 18.
“He's Tiger Woods. He doesn't need to prove anything to anyone,” Rory McIlroy said earlier this week.
“He doesn't need to prove anything else to himself. He can put the clubs away tomorrow and live happily ever after, I guess. But he wants to compete. He's a competitor. I think it shows a lot that he still turns up to some events and wants to play.”