Tiger Woods has further delayed his comeback to competitive golf after pulling out of this week's Safeway Open and next month's Turkish Airlines Open that he had committed to play in.
Woods was scheduled to play for the first time in 14 months in Napa this week but looks set to spend yet more time on the sidelines. Having not played since last year's Wyndham Championship, the 40-year-old has dropped to number 786 in the world and his chronic back issues had caused media speculation that he may never return.
In a statement on his website, Woods said: "After a lot of soul searching and honest reflection, I know that I am not yet ready to play on the PGA TOUR or compete in Turkey. My health is good, and I feel strong, but my game is vulnerable and not where it needs to be...When I announced last week I was going to Safeway, I had every intention of playing, or I wouldn't have committed."
He continued "I spent a week with the U.S. Ryder Cup Team, an honour and experience that inspired me even more to play. I practised the last several days in California, but after a lot of hours, I knew I wasn't ready to compete against the best golfers in the world.
"I will continue to work hard, and plan to play at my foundation's event, the Hero World Challenge, in Albany...I would like to apologise and send my regrets to Safeway, the Turkish Airlines Open, the fans in California and Turkey and those that had hoped to watch me compete on TV.
"This isn't what I wanted to happen, but I will continue to strive to be able to play tournament golf. I'm close, and I won't stop until I get there."
This is clearly disappointing news for both Woods himself, and golf fans all over the world who were eagerly anticipating the return of arguably the greatest player of all time to the sport he loves.
The 14 time major champion had been scheduled to play alongside reigning NBA MVP Steph Curry in the pro-am on Wednesday and did not give any time frame for his return.