Tiger Woods' latest comeback lasted just nine holes and 42 shots at Sawgrass today - and he knew he was in trouble from his very first hit.

Out for a month after suffering more knee and Achilles problems at The Masters, Woods had slumped into joint last place when he decided to quit the Players Championship, golf's richest event.

It was a familiar scene. In his last competitive round on the course a year ago the former world number one managed only six holes before pulling out with a neck injury.

After four weeks' rest this time Woods started practising again only on Monday, but although doctors told him he was good to go in the $5.8million event he felt something with his opening drive.

‘The knee acted up and then the Achilles followed after that and then the calf started cramping up,’ he said after an outward half that was only one stroke off his worst-ever on the PGA Tour.

‘Everything started getting tight, so it's just a whole chain reaction.’

He bogeyed the first, fifth and long ninth, but it was on the 384-yard fourth that things went horribly wrong.

After pitching into the water he chipped in as well and had to hole from just under 18 feet to avoid a quadruple bogey eight.

Asked if he feared he was back to square one with the injuries, the limping Woods - without a victory for 18 months and a major for nearly three years - replied: ‘I don't know. Give me a few days to see what the docs say.

‘I'm having a hard time walking. It felt fine during the warm-up and then as I played it progressively got worse.

‘I'm surprised. The treatment's been good and it's been getting better. It just wasn't enough.

‘On the first I was just trying to draw that ball out there just a little bit. I pushed forward and it just didn't feel good.’

The 35-year-old, who has just over a month to get fit for the US Open, admitted it ‘probably’ would have been wise to come off sooner.

‘It's hard to put muscle pressure on it right now, so it's a bit of a struggle.’

Woods suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and a strained left Achilles tendon while hitting an awkward shot during the third round of The Masters.

He was able to mount a last-day charge and shared the lead before slipping back to joint fourth, but did not reveal his problems until later.

Woods has been revamping his swing with new coach Sean Foley since last August.

This was only his seventh start of the season and with only two top 10 finishes he has already dropped to eighth in the world - and is now likely to fall further.

Usually his next appearance would be the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village on June 2-5. The second major of the year comes two weeks later at Congressional near Washington.
After four knee operations, including a reconstruction after he incredibly won the 2008 US Open with a broken leg, this latest setback raises fresh doubts about his ability to beat Jack Nicklaus' 18-major record.

His last tournament victory came just before he was embroiled in a sex scandal and went into therapy during a four-month break that ended at last year's Masters.