A dejected Tiger Woods is planning to take another short break from golf after a intensive physiotherapy session to loosen up his back failed to save him from an early exit at Royal Portrush.
The 43-year-old has been playing through the pain all week and is understood to have had a 45 minute treatment on Thursday night after admitting he was particularly "sore" during his troubled seven-over-par during the opening round.
On Friday he was grimacing in pain again as he managed to get around in 70, leaving him six-over and on the next plane home.
"I'm going to take a couple of weeks off and get ready for the play-offs," he said afterwards.
Woods denied his back problems were anything like as bad as they were prior to surgery, but the sport's one true megastar suggested he was almost relieved that he would not be playing on Saturday.
"It's been a lot of travel, a lot of time in the air, a lot of moving around and different hotels and everything," he said. "I just want to go home."
Woods, 43, had sought advice from a Harley Street specialist at the time of his make-or-break spinal fusion surgery in April 2017.
He staged one of sport's great comebacks to win the Masters in April this year, but the pained expression on his face throughout his time in Portrush is an ominous sign.
Before his second round, Woods was forced to sit on the grass of the practice ground to do up his shoes. Woods, however, insisted the pain he has been in this week was incomparable with the agony he was in two years ago.
"You can't compare the two," he said. "Those were some of the lowest times of my life. This is not. This is just me not playing well and not scoring well, and adds up to high scores."
It is the seventh time in 13 majors since 2014 that Woods has missed the cut. Since the Masters he has flopped at the PGA Championship and tied for 21st at the US Open last month.
"I kind of grinded my way around the golf course today," he said of his performance. "I had a chance to get it back to even-par for the tournament. I didn't handle the par-fives well. I was in perfect condition all three of them. If I handled those par fives well I would be right there."
Woods took a break in Thailand with his girlfriend and children last month, but said he now needs more time out.
"I just want some time off just to get away from it," he said. "I had a long trip to Thailand and then trying to get ready for this event, to play this event, it's been a lot of travel, a lot of time in the air, a lot of moving around and different hotels and everything. I just want to go home."
He insisted there is no chance of him quitting, despite his apparently declining health. "I just have to continue doing what I'm doing. I've gotten so much stronger over the past year working with my physios and trying to get my body organised so that I can play at a high level. It panned out; I won a major chip this year.
"It's just a matter of being consistent. That's one of the hardest things to accept as an older athlete is that you're not going to be as consistent as you were at 23. Things are different. And I'm going to have my hot weeks. I'm going to be there in contention with a chance to win, and I will win tournaments.
"But there are times when I'm just not going to be there. And that wasn't the case 20-some-odd years ago. I had a different body and I was able to be a little bit more consistent."
Woods said the Portrush crowd had been "incredible". "We couldn't have played in front of a better fan base than here at Portrush," he said.