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Woods absent from Bay Hill

Injury has prevented Tiger Woods from seeking a record ninth title at Bay Hill this week.

Tournament host Arnold Palmer also believes the world number one will also find it "tough" to match Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors.

Woods 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 himself will undergo a back operation after the Masters, where he acts as an honorary 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.

"He is listening to the doctors and they are saying he needs to give it a bit of a rest and see if he can work it out.

"He tried like hell to come here and play and I appreciate that and the fact that he called.

"I think he needs to take, whether it's this week, next week or the following week to get ready for Augusta. If I were in that position I'd be doing much the same."

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.

Reed caused a stir recently by saying he felt he was one of the top five players in the world, although in his defence he had just won the WGC-Cadillac Championship for his third victory since August.

Palmer would prefer a more modest approach, adding: "I was a bit surprised recently with some of the comments that the young players say.

"My father taught me and drove home the point, 'You don't need to tell anybody how good you are. You show them how good you are'.

"I learned early not to brag about how good I was or what I could do, but let my game show them and I tried to do that.

"I never heard Jack Nicklaus say 'I'm a great player', or Tiger Woods as a matter of fact. They just get out and do it. I think that's far more appealing."

World number three Henrik Stenson is also in the field and looking to recapture the form which saw him become the first player to win the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai in the same season.

Stenson, who has yet to record a top-10 finish in 2014, said: "It was a great year for me last year and I didn't have much of a rest in between the seasons. I think I've paid the price for that a little bit in the early part of this year.

"It wasn't really until I came here (Orlando) in the early part of February that I felt like I have landed, I put my bags down, I can be at home for a few weeks.

"My game is much better now than it was last year at this time, that's for sure. I'm not really too worried.

"This is a big week and then we've got a lot of big weeks coming up as well. I'm just trying to get going. I'll wake up at some point, I hope."