Tiger Woods won't be playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational this weekend.
"Unfortunately due to a neck strain that I've had for a few weeks, I'm forced to withdraw from the API. 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. I'd like to send my regrets to the Palmer family and the Orlando fans. Its connection to Arnold makes it one of my favorite tournaments and I'm disappointed to miss it."
Woods looked ready to conquer the golf world for a second time after earning five victories in 19 events during the 2013 season. He failed to win any tournaments across 20 official starts over the next two years, however, and rarely played throughout 2016 and 2017 because of lingering back problems.
He bounced back with a strong 2018 campaign, highlighted by a victory in the season-ending Tour Championship for his 80th PGA Tour win.
The 43-year-old Stanford product owns 14 major championships, which is four behind Jack Nicklaus for the most in history. None of those have come since the 2008 U.S. Open because of injuries, including knee, leg and Achilles ailments in addition to the back woes, and other off-course issues.
Those problems often prevented Woods from going up against the next generation of stars at his peak. Seeing him seriously compete against the likes of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama every Sunday for a few years would be memorable.
It's impossible to know whether he'll stay healthy enough to make that happen.
The latest setback, which follows back tightness at the Memorial last May, is unfortunate because Woods showed signs of progress. Along with his win in the Tour Championship, he recorded six other top-10 results across 18 starts in 2018, including a solo second at the PGA Championship.
This season, he's posted four top-20 finishes, including a 10th-place finish WGC-Mexico Championships in February.
All told, the odds of Woods winning another major decline with each passing injury, though it seems unlikely his neck strain will keep him sidelined for multiple tournaments. The attention given to his latest comeback effort shows he still moves the proverbial needle more than any other golfer on the planet, though.