Tiger Woods felt stiffness in his back after seven holes yesterday in Thomastown, Ireland, and decided to call it a day, not wanting to aggravate the week-old injury and not entirely certain he would be able to defend his title beginning today in the American Express Championship. The way his year has gone, that's just his luck.

Woods had every reason to look forward to this World Golf Championship event.

It returns to Mount Juliet, where Woods won two years ago by not making a bogey until the 72nd hole and finishing with a 25-under-par 263, matching his lowest 72-hole score under par.

He has dominated the World Golf Championships, winning eight of 15 since it began in 1999. And best of all if he plays, he doesn't have to worry about Vijay Singh.

Singh, the No. 1 player in the world, was the biggest name among six players in the top 50 who withdrew from the American Express.

Woods hasn't looked like a world-beater all year, and he sure didn't look like one yesterday as he walked gingerly to the clubhouse for lunch.

He said he hurt his back a week ago Tuesday when he fell asleep awkwardly on his private plane from New York.

"It's spasmed up and hasn't been the same since," Woods said.

-- From News Services