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Tiger Woods withdraws from Northern Trust with mild oblique strain

Tiger Woods tees off on the 12th hole

Tiger Woods tees off on the 12th hole during the first round of the Northern Trust at Liberty National in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Thursday. Photo Credit: JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

JERSEY CITY — A month after missing the cut in the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, Tiger Woods admitted, “I was in rough shape.”

That might become the epitaph for his post-Masters 2019 season, which stalled again Friday when he withdrew from the Northern Trust because of an injury.

Woods said in a statement that “a mild oblique strain that led to pain and stiffness” kept him from continuing in the FedEx Cup playoff tournament at Liberty National, a day after he acknowledged being uncomfortable while shooting a 4-over-par 75.

“I went for treatment early Friday morning, but unfortunately, I’m still unable to compete,” he said in the statement. “I’d like to thank the New Jersey and New York fans for their support and remain hopeful I can compete next week at the BMW Championship.”

Woods has played very little since his stunning win at Augusta in April, a triumph that came a year after he said his career appeared to be over. Back fusion surgery gave him a fresh start, though, and the green jacket, his 15th major title, fueled speculation that the chase was back on for Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships.

But he missed the cut at Bethpage in mid-May after not even showing up at the course for practice the day before the event. He finished ninth at Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament and 21st at the U.S. Open, then missed the cut at the British Open. In the pro-am here on Wednesday, Woods took no full swings during his final nine holes.

He repeatedly has said that at 43, he will have good days and bad days physically. After his round Thursday, he said of his back, “It’s a little bit stiff, but that’s just the way it’s going to be.”

He added, “I just didn’t play well. Just one of those things where I just didn’t hit any good shots and didn’t make any putts.”

Johnson takes 1-shot lead

Dustin Johnson is hitting the ball so well, he doesn’t have to make every putt. He made enough birdies Friday for a 4-under 67 that gave him a one-shot lead in the Northern Trust.

Johnson holed an 8-foot putt on the 18th at Liberty National to take the lead going into the weekend of the FedEx Cup playoffs opener, a tournament he has won twice at other courses.

Jordan Spieth began the PGA Tour postseason not assured of advancing beyond the first event. He had a 64 and trails Johnson by a shot as he looks to end a two-year victory drought.

First-round leader Troy Merritt was two shots back in a group that included Jon Rahm and Patrick Reed.  — AP

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