Golf: Back injury strikes Day as Players Championship and Masters loom

FILE PHOTO: February 9, 2019; Pebble Beach, CA, USA; Jason Day smiles on the fourth hole during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Kyle Terada/File Photo
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(Reuters) - Former world number one Jason Day hopes the back pain that prompted his withdrawal from the Arnold Palmer Invitational will not prevent his participation in next week's Players Championship. The Australian lasted less than seven holes at Bay Hill on Thursday before pulling out after hitting his second shot into water at the par-five 16th in Florida. He grabbed a sweater out of his bag and walked off the course, before saying that an MRI on Monday had revealed a tear in a disc. "I woke up Sunday and I couldn’t really walk," Day told Golf Channel. "Couldn’t sit in a car, it was really difficult. So I ended up coming down here and seeing a physio and trying to do as much work as I possibly could to get ready for this week. It just wasn’t going to work out. "I couldn’t play at like 100 percent today. I just wanted to see if I got out here and it may have loosened up, but unfortunately it didn’t." Day, 31, won the Players Championship three years ago during a nearly year-long hot streak in which he was clearly the best player in the world. He was stricken with back pain later that year, pulling out during consecutive tournaments at the end of the PGA Tour season with what he said was a strained ligament. As for whether he would play next week, Day said: "It’s too early to tell right now. "I think it’s just rest, to be honest, and hopefully I’ll be ready." Looming further down the track is the year's first major, the April 11-14 Masters. (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Nick Mulvenney)