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Tiger withdraws with injury

AP

Masters champion Tiger Woods withdrew Friday from the opening FedEx Cup playoffs event with what he described as a mild oblique strain.

It was the first time Woods has pulled out in the middle of a tournament since the Dubai Desert Classic in February 2017, two months before he had a fourth surgery on his back to fuse his lower spine.

“Due to a mild oblique strain that led to pain and stiffness, I have to withdraw from The Northern Trust,” Woods said in a statement released by the PGA Tour. “I went for treatment early Friday morning, but unfortunately I’m still unable to compete.”

Woods, playing in only his second tournament since the U.S. Open in June, opened with a 4-over 75 on a Liberty National course so soft that only one other player had a higher score. It was his second-worst score in 89 rounds in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

He has said all year that there are days when his back doesn’t feel as limber. In March, he decided not to play the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the road to the Masters because of lingering soreness in his neck. At the PGA Championship, he played only nine holes of practice in cold weather at Bethpage Black, where he missed the cut.

Woods stopped hitting full shots on the back nine of his pro-am Wednesday at Liberty National. After his opening round, he said his back was “a little stiff, but that’s just the way it’s going to be.”

After two rounds, Dustin Johnson leads the field at 12-under 130. Hideki Matsuyama shot his second straight 68 on Friday and is six shots off the pace.