Tiger Woods withdraws from Arnold Palmer Invitational because of neck injury
Tiger Woods is withdrawing from the Arnold Palmer Invitational due to a neck injury, delivering a big blow to the Orlando tournament that surged in popularity when he played last year.
Woods announced his decision Monday afternoon in two posts on his Twitter account.
“Unfortunately due to a neck strain that I’ve had for a few weeks, I’m forced to withdraw from the API,” Woods posted. “I’ve been receiving treatment, but it hasn’t improved enough to play. My lower back is fine, and I have no long-term concerns, and I hope to be ready for The Players.”
Woods had the chance to set a PGA record for most career wins at a tournament, racking up eight previous wins at Bay Hill Golf Club & Lodge throughout his career.
He shared a warm relationship with Arnold Palmer, the magnetic tournament host who personally invited top golfers to participate in the tournament up until his death. Since then, Woods has been among the stars who promised to keep supporting the tournament in honor of Palmer.
“I’d like to send my regrets to the Palmer family and the Orlando fans,” Woods posted. “Its connection to Arnold makes it one of my favorite tournaments and I’m disappointed to miss it.”
Woods proved he still has it last year at Bay Hill — as a player and a drawing card.
Woods was in contention on Sunday until some late miscues and Rory McIlroy’s back-nine blitzkrieg. But The Arnie might have been the biggest winner last March.
Woods’ first appearance at Bay Hill since 2013 generated record crowds and a massive spike in TV ratings. Ticket sales were up more than 50 percent from 2017. Every upgraded tournament pass, on-site parking pass and hospitality event sold out.
Meanwhile, Sunday’s final round earned a 3.2 rating and 5.0 million viewers on NBC, up 129 percent in ratings and 134 percent in viewership from last year (1.4, 2.1 million).
Tournament organizers will miss Woods, but the API will still feature an elite field.
Phil Mickelson, defending champion McIlroy, reigning U.S. Open and PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka and world No. 1 Justin Rose are among 12 of the top 20 golfers in the world rankings expected in the 120-player field. Fan favorite Rickie Fowler, 2018 runner-up Bryson DeChambeau and 2017 winner Jason Day are other big names scheduled to play this week.
“We know Tiger would be here if he could and we look forward to having him return in the future,” Arnold Palmer Invitational Tournament Director Marci Doyle said. “We have a great field and we are looking forward to a tremendous week.”