Tiger Woods Withdraws from Players Championship

May 13, 2011, 08:41 by R.E. Christian

Nick Watney just missed the course record Thursday to take the lead at the Players Championship in a strange round that featured the newest Tiger Woods saga.

Among the Top 10 after 18 holes was the oldest player in the field, another who is reportedly facing a suspension, a recent world No. 1 and the last two winners of the U.S. Open.

That group, however, did not include Woods, who withdrew after firing a 6-over-par 42 on the front nine of the TPC-Sawgrass course and limped to the clubhouse with an aggravation of an injury he suffered at the Masters.

"I'm having a hard time walking," said Woods, who strained his left knee and Achilles tendon on the next-to-last hole at the Augusta National Golf Club last month and had not played competitively since then until Thursday.

"The knee acted up, then the Achilles followed after that and then the calf started cramping up," he said. "As I played it got progressively worse."

Woods, without a victory on the PGA Tour for 20 months, said he had no idea when he would return to action.

Watney, meanwhile, shot an 8-under 64 on a perfect day for scoring. That was one shot off the course record held by Greg Norman and Fred Couples and good for a one-shot lead over Lucas Glover, who won last week in Charlotte, N.C., for his first victory since the 2009 U.S. Open.

Watney also has a win this year at the World Golf Championship event held in Miami. He played the first 12 holes in 9-under before suffering a double bogey at the par-4 14th.

Glover eagled the par-5 ninth, but also bogeyed the easiest hole on the course -- the par-5 16th.

Tied for third at 66 were former PGA Championship winner David Toms and 54-year-old Mark O'Meara, who is playing here for the first time in nine years thanks to his win at the Senior Players Championship last season. A victory this week would make O'Meara the oldest PGA Tour winner.

Fredrik Jacobson, Alvaro Quiros, Rory Sabbatini, Martin Kaymer and 2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell were all at 67. Kaymer recently enjoyed a stretch at No. 1 in the world and could regain that spot with a win this week.

It has been widely reported that the PGA Tour is considering suspending Sabbatini for a recent on-course tirade directed at fellow pro Sean O'Hair.

Phil Mickelson suffered a double bogey at the par-3 13th and settled for a 71.

Source: UPI