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Tiger Woods withdraws from Genesis Invitational due to ‘illness’

Tiger Woods is driven off the course after withdrawing from the Genesis Invitational
Tiger Woods is driven off the course after withdrawing from the Genesis Invitational - AP/Ryan Sun

Golf was in shock when Tiger Woods was forced to withdraw after just six holes of the second round in his first official tournament in 10 months on Friday.

The official reason was “illness”, but that statement hardly began to allay fears that the game could be witnessing the sad last chapter of the icon’s career.

The 48-year-old was two-over when he reached the par-fourth seventh at Riviera and struggling to make the cut at the Genesis Invitational, the $20 million (£15.8 million) tour stop that Woods’s own foundation promotes.

Without warning, he was quickly zoomed away in a buggy, with the Los Angeles course a gasp at the host’s withdrawal.

“Making his first official PGA Tour start since the 2023 Masters, Woods was one-over [for the day] through six holes and had just hit his tee shot on the par-four seventh hole when he called it quits,” the Tour website said. “He was carted back to the locker room by a rules official. The extent of Woods’ illness is unknown.”

Rob McNamara, Woods’s business partner, said later on Friday that the golfer had been suffering “flu-like symptoms” and dehydration.

“He had a little bit of fever and that, and was better during the warm up but then when he got out there and was walking and playing, he started feeling dizzy,” he said.

“He’s been treated with an IV bag and he’s doing much, much better.”

Thus was completed  – or maybe not – another remarkable week in the story of the 15-time major champion. It began in Tinsel Town with the launch of Woods’s new clothing partnership with TaylorMade, after he and Nike had split after their 27-year iconic relationship.

The “Sun Day Red” brand has been pilloried in many quarters – mainly because of the moniker being split into three words – but Woods seemed in exultant mood when attending the glitzy Monday unveiling.

It’s the right time in my life,” Woods said. “It’s transitional. I’m not a kid any more. I want to have a brand I’m proud of going forward.

“Sunday red – it’s me,’ he said. “It started with my mom [Kultilda]. She thought being a Capricorn that my power colour was red, so I wore red as a junior golfer and I won some tournaments. Lo and behold, I go to a university that is red, Stanford is red. We wore red on the final day of every single tournament, and then every single tournament I’ve played as a professional I’ve worn red. It’s just become synonymous with me.”

Inspiring stuff and in Wednesday’s press conference, Woods reprised his press conferences of old when he said that “only a W” would satisfy him at his home tournament. Nobody believed him. Not only was he rusty after all in the inaction, but he is clearly an old golfer with multiple handicaps. As shown in the first round.

Woods hit the perhaps the most spectacular shank on Thursday and he put the blame firmly on the spinal condition. When asked to account for the spasm, he curtly replied: “Because my back’s fused. My back was spasming the last couple holes and it was locking up. But that’s just part of the deal, and I look forward to the challenge.”

The risky procedure in 2017 handed Woods an extended golf life but clearly reduced flexibility in his swing.  Countless golfing obits were written when he limped out of Augusta last year – and, indeed, a fortnight later when he underwent another operation on the right leg that he so almost lost in a car crash just under three years ago.

At that stage, any optimism seemed to extend only as far as Woods being able to tee it up in the occasional major. But earlier this week Woods claimed that he feels fit enough to play a tournament each month next year. Woods made the cut at the 2023 Masters but withdrew before completing the third round because of plantar fasciitis and had ankle surgery later that month. He returned to professional golf at the end of November in an unofficial PGA Tour event – the Hero World Challenge – which featured a limited field and no cut.

Two weeks later, Woods competed with his son Charlie at the PNC Championship, which is a 36-hole event featuring two-player teams made up of a major champion and a family member. In the six official starts since his accident, he has withdrawn three times and his best finish – apart from finishing 18th in a 20-man field in the Bahamas in December – has been 45th. In those three years, he has lasted the full 72 holes just twice.

This was supposed to a fresh start. Woods was reportedly seen entering multiple portaloos before he beckoned the official to tak him back to the clubhouse. He launched off to a rousing start beginning for a second day with a birdie on the first hole, before suffering  back-to-back bogeys on holes four and five. He was not playing well, but evidently feeling just as poorly.

Tour official Mark Dusbabek confirmed  Woods had withdrawn with illness. As well as his regular bathroom stops, he was spotted bent over on the fifth tee. “It’s an illness,” Dusbabek told Golf Channel. “He’s not feeling well.”

By then, Rory McIlroy was in the clubhouse on two-under after a brilliant 66. But the world No 2 – who has the chance to leapfrog Scottie Scheffler at the top of the rankings on Sunday – is still rueing the traumatic finish to his first round that saw him drop six shots in the last eight holes.

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