The strongest field of the year at The Players Championship will be without the biggest draw in golf.
Tiger Woods isn’t playing.
Woods will miss The Players Championship for the first time when not recovering from any of his nine surgeries. His agent, Mark Steinberg at Excel Sports Management, said in a text, “Back just not ready. Not long term concern.”
Woods has played only two times this year, a tie for ninth at Torrey Pines and last place at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, where he serves as tournament host. Woods shot 76-77 on the weekend at Riviera in the Pacific chill and said his back was a little stiff.
He decided at the last minute not to play the World Golf Championships event in Mexico. He didn’t play the Honda Classic for the second straight year, and then he chose not play the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where he has won a record eight times.
The Players was seen as a likely return, except that Woods isn’t ready.
Woods later tweeted that it wasn’t an easy decision.
“I have to listen to my body and properly rest when needed,” Woods said. “My back is simply just not ready for play next week. I’m sad to miss one of the best events of the season, OUR Championship.”
PGA — Tyrrell Hatton lost his swing on his back nine without losing his head, a small victory. He battled through a tough test at Bay Hill and was only surprised by what he saw when he finished.
His tidy short game was strong enough to carry him into a share of the lead with Sung Kang at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla.
“I just didn’t have a clue where it was going,” Hatton said after a 3-under-par 69.
Kang birdied four of his last seven holes for a 68.
Rory McIlroy made a mess of No. 8 and shot 73 that still left him within two shots of the lead.
Matt Every thought it was awesome that his 65 in the opening round was 20 shots better than his previous round on the PGA Tour. Not so awesome was being 18 shots higher the next day, an 83 that allowed him to join the wrong list in PGA Tour annals by going from the 18-hole lead to the weekend off.
He missed the cut by one shot.