Tiger Woods retires from Bridgestone as back injury flares

Fears season could be over after former world No 1 pulls out of WGC event

Tiger Woods grimaces as he hits his second shot   out of the rough beside a bunker on the second hole during the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. The former world No 1 admitted after withdrawing from the tournament that he jarred his back on the shot. Photograph: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Tiger Woods grimaces as he hits his second shot out of the rough beside a bunker on the second hole during the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. The former world No 1 admitted after withdrawing from the tournament that he jarred his back on the shot. Photograph: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Sun, Aug 3, 2014, 19:06

Tiger Woods withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational during Sunday’s final round, sparking fears that he had suffered further serious damage to his back.

Playing just his third event since undergoing microdiscectomy surgery in March, Woods was four over par after eight holes when he pulled out on the ninth hole at Firestone Country Club.

The former world number one looked in severe pain after hitting his tee shot on the par four, wincing as he struggled to bend down to pick up his tee.

And moments later he was on a golf cart being driven straight to the car park where he again looked in real discomfort as he prepared to leave a venue where he has won eight times, including by seven shots last year.

Asked if he had suffered the same injury which led to surgery on March 31st and ruled him out of the Masters and US Open – Woods told reporters: “It’s just the whole lower back.

“It happened on the second hole when I hit my second shot. I fell back into the bunker. Just jarred it. It’s been spasming ever since.”

On his prospects of playing in the US PGA Championship next week at Valhalla – where he beat Bob May in a play-off in 2000 – the 38-year-old added: “I don’t know, (I’m) just trying to get out of here.”

Woods had made the ideal start to his round with a birdie on the first, but dropped shots on the third and sixth and then ran up a double-bogey on the seventh.

European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, commentating on Sky Sports, said: “He looks like he’s maybe come back too early. The way he played I saw him hit shots on the front nine there that I’ve never seen him in his life come close to hitting. There’s obviously something going on.”

Woods missed the cut in his first event back at the end of June and then suffered his worst ever 72-hole finish in a Major championship as a professional, ending up 69th in the British Open at Hoylake despite an opening 69.

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