PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Tiger Woods withdrew after nine holes at The Players Championship on Thursday because of leg injuries that sent him limping off the course toward a future that is murkier than ever.
Woods shot a 42 on the front nine, walking some 20 yards behind his playing partners and with a limp that became more noticeable with each hole he played.
After taking a bogey on the par-5 ninth, he handed his card to PGA champion Martin Kaymer, then walked back to inform Matt Kuchar that he was leaving early for the second straight year.
“I’m having a hard time walking,” Woods said.
It was his first competition since the Masters, where Woods said he hurt his left knee and Achilles while hitting from pine straw in the third round. He skipped the tournament last week to give his leg time to heal, and said Tuesday that it was better.
But from the opening tee shot at the TPC Sawgrass, he looked as bad as he ever has.
“The knee acted up and then the Achilles followed after that, and then the calk started cramping up,” Woods said. “Everything started getting tight, so it’s just a whole chain reaction.”
Woods looked fine when he played nine holes of practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, and said after the second day of practice that he had only “minimal” swelling.
This is the second straight year Woods has withdrawn in the middle of the round at The Players Championship. He stopped on the seventh hole of the final round last year with what turned out to be a neck injury.
Woods already has had four operations on his left knee.