CNN  — 

Tiger Woods will miss the Players Championship next week at Sawgrass after withdrawing because of a back injury.

The 15-time major winner has not played since the Genesis Invitational three weeks ago. He missed this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, citing back stiffness.

And Woods announced on his Twitter that the back injury has ruled him out of the tournament that starts March 12 in Florida.

“It was not an easy decision, but I will not be attending the Players Championship,” the 44-year-old said. “I have to listen to my body and properly rest when needed. My back is simply just not ready for play next week. I’m sad to miss one of the best events of the season, OUR Championship.”

Referred to as the unofficial “fifth major,” the Players Championship traditionally acts as a warmup to the first major of the year, the Masters.

Woods stunned the world last year to win his fifth green jacket.

Visit for more news, features, and videosHis withdrawal from the Players Championship throws into doubt his ability to defend his Masters title. The Masters begins April 9.

Woods has battled back injuries throughout his career. He has undergone four back surgeries and had a fourth knee operation in August.

He won the Players Championship in 2001 and 2013.