Tiger Woods withdrew from yesterday's final round of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational after suffering further problems in his lower back, with his immediate future in the game shrouded in uncertainty.
The 38-year-old said afterwards the problems began when he played his second shot from an awkward stance on Firestone's par-five second. He soldiered on until the ninth, but after pumping his drive down the fairway, he was in clear discomfort and withdrew without hitting another shot.
History of injury
Woods had back surgery on March 31, before completing a surprising return to professional golf at the Quicken Loans National at Congressional last month. He even admitted himself that, having spoken to others who had the same surgery, they could not believe how quickly he had returned.
Speaking to the Golf Channel as he headed to Firestone CC's car park, Woods spoke of the incident that forced his withdrawal.
"On the second hole I was playing my second shot, and fell back into the bunker and just jarred it," he said.
Asked whether it was the same spot as before, Woods added: "It's just the whole lower back, so I don't know what happened when I landed."
And he was just as vague when asked about his hopes of playing at the season-ending Major, the US PGA at Valhalla next week: "I don't know. I just want to get out of here."
The incident casts serious doubts over his immediate future in the game, with next week's Major championship followed by the FedEx Cup playoffs as well as the continental matchup with Europe in the Ryder Cup.
Although it would've been unlikely of him to make the playoffs following his final-round struggles in Ohio left him four-over par for the tournament and well off the pace, a place in the Ryder Cup was never beyond him - but it might, or should, be now.
Future in doubt
That, however, will be the least of Woods' concerns right now, with his future in the game very much now at risk.
Having only played nine competitive rounds before yesterday since returning, he was still very much in the recovery period and to suffer a setback so soon after his comeback will leave many questioning whether he was physically fit enough in the first place.
He has a habit of rushing himself back from the sidelines, though, desperate to overhaul the Major record set by Jack Nicklaus.
But his relentless pursuit of that haul could well be cut short with the health of his body parts seemingly beyond his control.
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