Injury has prevented Tiger Woods (pictured) from seeking a record ninth title at Bay Hill this week – and tournament host Arnold Palmer believes the world number one will also find it "tough" to match Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors.
Woods (pictured) announced on Tuesday that continuing back problems would prevent him from playing the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a tournament he has won eight times to share the PGA Tour record with Sam Snead, who racked up eight wins in the Greater Greensboro Open.
The 38-year-old has played just three times in 2014, missing the cut in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines – scene of his last major title in 2008 – and then withdrawing after 13 holes of the final round of The Honda Classic.
A week later, Woods again complained of lower back pain during the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. He finished the round but shot 78, the highest Sunday score of his career.
"I don't think 38 years is the ultimate stopping point for his quest to do what Jack did. I think it lessens the possibility of that happening," said Palmer, who revealed he will undergo a back operation after the Masters, where he acts as an honourary starter.
"It's going to be tough. It's going to be tough to keep the concentration and the game that is necessary to win majors and the fact that these young guys are tough and strong, and if they continue to play as well as they've been playing, it's going to be tough."
Palmer also agreed with the belief that Woods has lost the 'fear factor' he enjoyed at his prime, adding: "The fear of a player being so good that they back off, I don't think that's the case any more. I think the players that are going to win major championships have to be physically fit, mentally fit and they are going to continue to be tough to beat."
Woods called Palmer personally to say he would not be able to play at Bay Hill, Palmer adding: "He didn't tell me how bad his back is, I don't think he knows.
Woods' absence means world number two Adam Scott is the top ranked player in the field, the Masters champion being paired with US Open champion Justin Rose and Patrick Reed in the first two rounds.