- Bob Harig, Senior Golf Writer
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DORAL, Fla. -- Discomfort in his left Achilles caused Tiger Woods to withdraw from the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship after hitting his drive on the 12th hole Sunday.
The golfer, who has been plagued by injuries in recent years, said he will have the injury evaluated early this week.
Woods, 36, appeared to be in some distress after hitting his second shot in the water at the par-5 10th hole at the TPC Blue Monster at Doral, where he was on his way to his worst finish in nine appearances at the venue.
He appeared to favor his left leg, and then after hitting a 321-yard drive at No. 12, Woods summoned officials and was escorted from the property with his caddie, Joe LaCava, on a golf cart. Woods went to the parking lot and drove away with LaCava. Woods lives about 100 miles north of Doral outside of Jupiter.
He issued a statement about an hour after he left the course.
"I felt tightness in my left Achilles warming up this morning, and it continued to get progressively worse," said Woods, who made three bogeys and no birdies during the final round. "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 first suffered an Achilles injury at last year's Masters and tried to return a month later at the Players Championship, where he withdrew after just nine holes. He later said that he caused himself a setback by trying to return too soon.
Woods, who began the fourth round of the World Golf Championship event eight strokes behind leader Watson, missed four months of action last year after suffering what was then described as a Grade 1 mild medial collateral ligament strain to his left knee and a mild strain to his left Achilles tendon.
The initial injury occurred while "hitting a difficult and awkward second shot from the pine straw under the Eisenhower tree left of the fairway at No. 17 during the third round of the 2011 Masters," according to his website. Woods tied for fourth in that tournament.
"It looked like he made a swing on 12 that really hurt," said Webb Simpson, who played with Woods during the final round. "But he didn't say a whole lot. He just said he's got to be done. It looked like he was in some pain ... maybe his heel was bothering him, something with his foot. I don't think it's anything serious, but we didn't talk or anything so I'm not sure exactly what it was."
Paul Tesori, a veteran caddie who works for Simpson, said he noticed an issue with Woods walking as early as the fourth hole. He said that LaCava said the Achilles "puffed up."
McIlroy, who moved up to No. 1 in the world when he won the Honda Classic a week ago, was playing in the group behind Woods and watched from the 12th tee as Woods left. At first, he thought Woods was looking for a restroom.
"It's a shame because he looked like he was coming out this year, swinging it really well, playing good, getting himself into contention," McIlroy said. "It's probably just precautionary, but I really hope he's healthy for the Masters, because obviously it would be a great week with him there."
Woods is scheduled to play a two-day exhibition called the Tavistock Cup, March 19-20 in Orlando, followed by the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which he has won six times. That tournament begins March 22. The Masters, which Woods has won four times, but not since 2005, begins April 5.
Although Woods said he is suffering from an Achilles injury, it is his left knee that has been most bothersome over the years. He has endured four operations on the knee, including reconstructive surgery on a damaged ACL following his 2008 U.S. Open victory. (The Achilles injury that Woods said he suffered in 2008-09 was his right, not his left, as last year's was reported to be.)
That kept him from playing the rest of the 2008 season, but he returned in 2009 to win six times on the PGA Tour and another event in Australia.
He has not won since -- except for the unofficial Chevron World Challenge in December -- having endured a personal scandal that caused him to take a five-month leave from the game in 2010.
Woods remains stuck on 71 PGA Tour titles and 14 major championships.
Recently he has shown solid form after returning in August from the Achilles and knee injury. He finished third at the Australian Open in November, won the Chevron World Challenge, was tied for third in his first event this year in Abu Dhabi, then was tied for 15th at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
After getting bounced from the WGC-Accenture Match Play two weeks ago in the second round, Woods last Sunday shot a final-round 62 to finish second to McIlroy at the Honda Classic.
He had never finished outside of the top 10 in eight previous appearances at Doral, with three victories, including one in the WGC event.
Woods, who entered the final round at Doral eight strokes back, was asked Saturday about his health, given that he was playing his third consecutive event. Asked how his body was holding up, Woods said, "Oh, it feels great."
His Sunday mood was dampened as he got off to a poor start. He failed to birdie the easy first hole and made bogeys at the sixth, seventh and 10th holes. Despite showing signs of injury at the 10th, Woods played on, hitting a poor approach at the 11th, but getting it up and down for par. After hitting a good drive at the 12th, however, he withdrew.