Tiger Woods withdraws from Northern Trust with oblique strain

Written By Bob Hille
(Getty Images)

Tiger Woods, who opened the Northern Trust with a 4-over 75 on Thursday, withdrew Friday from the first tournament of the FedExCup playoffs with what has been described as a "mild oblique strain that led to pain and stiffness."

"I went for treatment early Friday morning, but unfortunately I’m still unable to compete," Woods said in a statement distributed by the PGA Tour. "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, 43, was scheduled to tee off at 12:33 p.m. ET Friday at Liberty National in Jersey City, New Jersey, but has a history of back problems that he has described as his new normal.

Looking out of sorts during most of Thursday's round played under ideal scoring conditions, Woods dug himself an early and deep hole, ballooning to 4 over par after only nine holes. At one point late in his round, Woods found himself at T-58 among 58 golfers on the course.

“I knew today we had the perfect greens and I needed to shoot something under, but I went the wrong way,” he said after his round.

In contrast, Troy Merritt posted a course record-tying 9-under 62 to lead after Round 1.

The tournament was Woods’ first start since he missed the cut last month at the British Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, where he said he was hampered by the cold and damp conditions.

Many attributed Thursday's bad opening round to rust, which may have been a contributing factor, though clearly Woods' physical well-being will be an ongoing concern moving forward in the 15-time major winner's career.

His withdrawal Friday adds extra pressure on him in next week's BMW Championship in Chicago if, as he noted, he is able to compete there.

He entered the Northern Trust just inside the top 30 at No. 28 on the FedExCup points list. He is assured of a spot in the BMW, which is for the top 70 players in the points standings.

However, he likely now needs a decent finish at Medinah Country Club to assure himself a shot at defending his 2018 victory in the season-ending Tour Championship, limited to the top 30 in FedExCup points.

And a decent finish appears to be anything but a sure thing for Woods. Since winning the Masters in April, Woods has missed the cut at the PGA Championship and British Open and finished T-21 at the U.S. Open.

On Thursday, spectators weren't allowed on the course until 10 a.m. ET as Liberty National worked to clean up damage from fierce storms late Wednesday afternoon.

By the time the gates opened, Woods — who teed off early at No. 10 with Scott Piercy and J.T. Poston — had for all intents and purposes shot himself out of the tournament.

His front nine was marred by a three bogeys and a double bogey offset by a single birdie as he made his turn at 4-over 39 as he battled waywardness off the tee and a shaky putter when he gave himself scoring opportunities.

He offered some hope by opening his second nine with a birdie at No. 1, but then missed a clean-up par putt inside 3 feet on No. 3 to roll back to 4 over.

His 75 left him sitting in a tie for 114th in the Northern Trust, all but assuring that he wouldn't make it to the weekend, healthy or not.

Now the question becomes: Can Woods play the BMW and, if so, can he recapture the magic he displayed at Augusta National in April, which looks so long ago now?

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