Tiger Woods appears less likely to play in the 2017 Masters as he announced Thursday that he will not play in the 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Woods made the announcement on his website, which reads, "Unfortunately, due to ongoing rest and rehabilitation on my back, I won't be able to play in this year's Arnold Palmer Invitational. I'm especially disappointed because I wanted to be at Bay Hill to help honor Arnold. This is one event I didn't want to skip. Arnold has meant so much to me and my family; I thought of him as a close friend, and Sam and Charlie were both born in the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. He will be greatly missed and can never truly be replaced.
"Presently, I have no timetable for my return to golf, but my treatments are continuing and going well."
Woods is an eight-time Arnold Palmer Invitational champion, and Bay Hill has been site to some of Woods' most dramatic victories. When Woods has been healthy, Bay Hill has been an automatic part of his schedule. However, Woods hasn't played in the event 2013, when he won for the eighth time.
Now the Masters is certainly in question. Woods hasn't competed since withdrawing from the 2017 Omega Dubai Desert Classic after a first-round 77, complaining of lower back spasms, the condition Woods has cited each of the last four times he has withdrawn from a tournament. Woods suggested there were not long-term concerns about the spasms, but Woods withdrew from the Genesis Open and The Honda Classic, which were meant to be part of an ambitious four-event season-starting stretch. Woods twice cancelled a news conference at Riviera, where is now tournament host, and has been told by doctors to remain "horizontal."
It does not appear Woods is practicing or preparing for a return, rather focusing on rehab. Woods does not have to formally commit to the Masters. As a past champion and invitee, all he has to do is show up before his assigned Thursday tee time, assuming he does not tell Augusta National ahead of the tournament that he is unable to play.