Tiger Woods has announced that he will not be playing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill next week and has no current timetable to return to competitive golf.
Many had thought that he would make his appearance in this year's Masters at Augusta National in just under a month, but that has now seriously been put in to question.
This year the Masters is marking 20 years since he became the youngest ever winner with a 12 shot victory to win his first major as a professional - and would have also marked his 20th appearance as a professional in the event.
“Unfortunately, due to ongoing rest and rehabilitation on my back, I won’t be able to play in this year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational,” Woods said in a statement on Thursday evening.
“I’m especially disappointed because I wanted to be at Bay Hill to help honour Arnold. This is one event I didn’t want to skip.”
Woods has an incredible record at Bay Hill having won the title eight times, which includes four times in his last five appearances, although he has not played there since 2013. He also won four consecutive years (2000-03) to match the PGA TOUR record for most consecutive wins in a single event, while no other player has won the event more than twice.
"Arnold has meant so much to me and my family; I thought of him as a close friend, and Sam and Charlie (Woods’ children) were both born in the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies,”
“He will be greatly missed and can never truly be replaced.”
This is another huge set-back for the 14-time major champion, who was initially sidelined for 15 months following back surgery.
His first appearance back on the World stage came in December, and while he finished 15th in a 17 man field, things really looked promising for the former World no.1. He led the field in both birdies and bogeys made, suggesting signs of his former prowess while also alluding to the work he still had to put in to get him back to the top.
Then came a long-awaited return where he was scheduled to play four events in a five-week stretch, but it ended in disappointment.
Woods missed the cut at his first PGA Tour event since 2015 at the Farmers Insurance Open, and after shooting another over-par round then pulled out before the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic with back spasms.
The statement comes just a couple of days after President Cup Captain Steve Stricker had said to the press "I don't think he's doing that well physically."