In Depth

Is this the end for injured Tiger Woods as back trouble returns?

Doubts over Wood's appetite as he pulls out of the Farmers Insurance Open after just 12 holes

The future of golfer Tiger Woods appears to be in doubt after he was forced to abandon his latest tournament 12 holes into his first round with back problems.

The Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines was only his second event of the season and in his previous outing last week the 14-time major winner shot a career-worst 82.

Woods missed most of last season after undergoing surgery on his back, but the problem now seems to have returned. At the very least it puts his participation in April's Augusta Masters in doubt.

The 39-year-old said the problem was precipitated by a two-hour delay caused by fog on the course. Woods explained that he had a "good" warm-up session but said his muscles started "shutting down" as he waited for play to restart.

During the 11 holes he did play Woods was seen "routinely holding his back after shots and limping", says The Guardian. "This was painful viewing... The timing could barely be worse, with the first major of the season, the Masters, nine weeks away."

Woods's fitness is becoming a major concern. "It was the ninth withdrawal of his career, but his third in the last eight events he has started, leading many to doubt whether he can ever again return to the top of the game," says The Times. He has not won a major for seven years and his last PGA Tour success was in 2013.

Since the surgery Woods has abandoned one comeback, hired a new coach and developed a new swing (which he blamed for his dismal round last week) as he chases "sporting resurrection", notes the Daily Telegraph. "Alas, now, just 47 holes into 2015, Woods's progress appears forlorn."

The paper also notes that Woods eschewed practice ahead of his latest tournament this week and was instead in Colorado to watch girlfriend, skiier Lindsey Vonn, in action on Tuesday. "Not only is his fitness being questioned, but his appetite," it notes.

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