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Achilles flare-up forces Woods to exit Doral early

DORAL — Tiger Woods' road to the Masters hit a pot hole Sunday when he withdrew after 11 holes in the final round of the Cadillac Championship because of soreness in his left Achilles tendon.

That is the Achilles he injured last year at the Masters, a problem that eventually caused Woods to miss two 2011 majors.

The severity of this injury won't be known until Woods has it evaluated, which will be early this week, he said in a statement.

He was 3 over in the final round of the World Golf Championships event, 10 shots out of the lead, when he hit a 321-yard tee shot on the par-5 12th hole, shook hands with Webb Simpson and left in a cart.

"I felt tightness in my left Achilles warming up (Sunday) morning, and it continued to get progressively worse," Woods said. "After hitting my tee shot at 12, I decided it was necessary to withdraw.

"In the past I may have tried to continue to play, but this time I decided to do what I thought was necessary."

Woods is scheduled to play in two weeks at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. It was to be his last event before the Masters on April 5-8.

The Cadillac Championship was Woods' third straight tournament. When asked after the third round how his body was holding up, he replied, "It feels great."

On Sunday, Woods changed shoes at the turn and was lifting his left leg, slightly flexing the ankle. His limp became more pronounced, especially after he pulled his second shot on the par-5 10th, leading to bogey. The limp grew worse, and moments later, Woods was gone.

It's the third time in three years Woods has withdrawn from a tournament. The most recent was at the Players Championship in May. He took three months off to let his left leg heal.

Woods, 36, has had four surgeries on his left knee dating to when he was at Stanford. The most significant was in June 2008, when he had reconstructive surgery to repair ligaments a week after winning the U.S. Open for his 14th major. Woods has not won a major since; he has missed four majors because of injuries.

Rose rallies to win at Doral

Justin Rose had to make up a three-shot deficit against Bubba Watson and then a two-shot deficit against Keegan Bradley to win the Cadillac Championship.

Rose shot 2-under 70 and finished at 16-under 272 for a one-shot win over Watson (74), who had led after Rounds 2 and 3. Rory McIlroy shot 67 to end up two back.

"I've been very focused on seeing this whole Florida (March tournament) swing as like a body of work and not really trying to put too much focus on any individual tournament," Rose said.

"I kind of knew I was playing well, and if I just kept out of my own way for the most part and kept thinking well and doing the right things, I had a feeling something good might happen."

Watson looked out of sorts all day. He didn't hit a fairway on the front nine, and only one tee shot stayed inside the bunkers that frame the fairways. He was in the water twice, once in a canal on No. 5 that not many knew was there. He shot 39 on the front nine.

What was he thinking? "I'm thinking I'm not playing very good," Watson said.

Bradley dropped four shots over the last four holes, including double bogey on the par-4 18th for 75. He went from leading at the turn to finishing in a tie for eighth at 11 under with 41 on the back nine.

"I didn't play that bad," Bradley said. "Just some really strange putts, and then I just kind of limped in."

PGA: Former Seminole George McNeill birdied the last three holes for 3-under 69 to rally past Ryo Ishikawa (68) and win the Puerto Rico Open by two shots at Rio Grande. McNeill finished at 16-under 272 for his second career victory. He won the 2007 Frys.com Open as a rookie.

Achilles flare-up forces Woods to exit Doral early 03/11/12 [Last modified: Sunday, March 11, 2012 8:42pm]
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