AKRON, Ohio – Feeling uncomfortable all day, Tiger Woods "jarred" his back after jumping back into a bunker on the second hole following a shot from an awkward stance and then withdrew Sunday during the final World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational after hitting his tee shot on the ninth hole.
Woods, who earlier this year withdrew from the Honda Classic in the final round and then had back surgery on March 31, was driven from the ninth tee to his car in the parking lot.
He was grimacing as he got off the cart and then had a hard time changing his shoes. Within a few minutes he was being driven off the premises by his caddie Joe LaCava.
Woods drove his ball on the second hole into a plugged lie on the top of a steep bunker on the right side of the hole. After taking a free drop because of the plugged lie, Woods took an awkward stance where his feet were well below the ball and his balance was a challenge. After taking a hearty swing, he fell backward and then jumped into the bunker.
"It happened on the second hole when I hit my second shot, I fell back into the bunker. I just jarred it, and it's been spasming ever since," Woods told a PGA Tour official. "It's just the whole lower back. I don't know what happened."
From there his back and game got worse.
After making a par on the second, Woods left his second shot from 174 yards well short of the green as it ended up in a pond. On the 200-yard par-3 fifth hole, he chunked his tee shot and was 65 yards short of the green. On the next hole he hit his tee shot deep into trees on the right, then hit his second shot up against a concession stand well right of the hole.
He found the bunker on the par-3 seventh hole and then bladed his shot 25 yards long. After a par on the eighth hole, he hit his tee shot 315 yards on the ninth but then doubled over in pain. After taking a few steps, he called for an official and drove off the course.
Woods, 38, is headed to Louisville for next week's PGA Championship but doesn't know if he'll be able to compete. He had planned on playing Valhalla Golf Club on Monday afternoon in preparation for the final major of the season.
"I don't know," Woods said when asked about next week. "Just trying to get out of here."
Woods, who has won a record eight times at Firestone and was the defending champion, was 3 over for the round, 4 over for the tournament and 18 shots behind leader Sergio Garcia when he withdrew.
This was Woods' 10th competitive round since returning following back surgery to alleviate pain caused by a pinched nerve. While he missed the cut in his first tournament at the Quicken Loans Invitational in late June, he was encouraged because his back was fine. Since then, through four rounds in the British Open and the first three here at Firestone, he said he was getting stronger each day and his back still felt fine.
Woods said his back has been bothering him the past two years. Before his surgery, he played in just four tournaments this season. His best finish was a tie for 25th in the WGC-Cadillac Championship, where back spasms popped up in the final round and he shot a 78.
He needed two good weeks to make the FedExCup Playoffs and impress U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson enough to make him one of his three captain's picks.
Now that's up in the air.