Since Tiger Woods announced his indefinite leave of absence from the PGA Tour on Feb. 11 for, "play, and scores, [that] are not acceptable for tournament golf," many have speculated as to when the former World No. 1 and 14-time major champ would return.
We learned on Friday that it won't be next week at Bay Hill in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where Woods is an eight-time winner. Woods had until 5 p.m. ET on Friday to decide whether he'd play.
Woods announced his decision not to play in this statement posted to www.tigerwoods.com at 2:45 p.m. ET:
I spoke to Arnold today and told him that I will not play in his tournament this year. I'm sorry I won't be in Orlando next week, but I know it will be a really successful event.
I've put in a lot of time and work on my game and I'm making strides, but like I've said, I won't return to the PGA TOUR until my game is tournament ready and I can compete at the highest level.
I hope to be ready for the Masters, and I will continue to work hard preparing for Augusta.
I want to thank everyone again for their support.
With Woods' decision to skip Bay Hill, the question now moves to whether or not he'll sit out the Masters. If he does, it would mark just the second time in his professional career that Woods has missed the Masters -- and the second time in as many years (he missed last year due to injury).
Woods said via Twitter he's still hoping to play at Augusta National:
Given all his success at Bay Hill, the decision to skip next week's tournament doesn't exactly bode well for the state of Woods' game since stepping away.
His last victory at Bay Hill came in 2013 when he ascended back to No. 1 in the world-- one of five wins that season, on his way to an 11th PGA Tour Player of the Year Award.
Since then, Woods has fallen to No. 79 in the world, his worst ranking since the week before he won his first PGA Tour event as a 20-year-old in 1996. If he does not play leading up to the Masters, he will be out of the top 100 when -- or if -- he gets to Augusta.
Two tournaments remain before the Masters -- the Valero Texas Open and the Shell Houston Open. Woods has not played the Texas Open since 1996. He has never played the Houston Open, and he has never played the week before the Masters.
The decision ramps up speculation on the state of Woods -- his mind and his game -- leading to Augusta.
He has played only 47 holes this year. Woods missed the cut in the Phoenix Open with a career-high 82 in the second round. A week later, he withdrew after 11 holes at Torrey Pines for tightness in his lower back.
Since back surgery on March 31 of last year, Woods has completed only two 72-hole events. He finished 69th in the British Open, 23 shots behind Rory McIlroy. And he tied for last in an 18-man field at the Hero World Challenge at Isleworth, a course he has played more than any other.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.