Tiger Woods will miss the 2020 Players Championship with a nagging back injury, Woods' agent Mark Steinberg confirmed to ESPN on Friday. Steinberg explained that while Woods' back is not ready for competition just yet, it shouldn't be an issue that's concerning in the long-term future. 

"Back just not ready. Not concerning long term, just not ready," Steinberg told ESPN

This is the fourth straight week Woods has missed after finishing last (after a made cut) at the Genesis Invitational in February. Woods skipped the WGC-Mexico Championship, did not play the Honda Classic and then also skipped this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational, where he is an eight-time winner.

A concerning trajectory, perhaps, but missing next week's Players is definitely the most alarming of them all. The Players is a big deal in professional golf and PGA Tour circles, and this Players especially will be important. With all the rumors swirling of a rival professional league to the PGA Tour -- the Premier Golf League -- as well as the potential of the PGA Tour announcing its new TV deal next week, this year's Players will be a showcase for the best golf at the highest level in the best league in the world.

In other words, it's significant. Woods knows this. Which is why him not showing up is not necessarily as straightforward as "not concerning long term, just not ready." If you're trying to play a condensed scheduled -- which Tiger is even after playing as few as 12 events last season -- the Players is not one you're going to cut out. The API and Mexico? Sure, but not the Players. Even if you were shortening your season to six or seven or eight events, the Players is on all of those lists. All of them. Unless you were going to only play the four majors, you would play the Players. 

That doesn't mean he's cooked, but it does mean that something is currently not right with his body. That may or may not be concerning, which is probably a good summation of the next five years of Tiger's career. He's said several times that caring for his back and neck will be a roller coaster for several years. 

The fear now is not that Woods might play poorly in the Masters -- which is just a month from now -- because of a lack of competitive play rather that his body won't cooperate for all seven days of a major championship week. Woods has entered the Masters without playing for months and months and played well before. He, to my knowledge anyway, has never entered with a back that was flaring up and done anything noteworthy.

Of course, all of this might be nothing. We all freaked out last year when he missed the API with a stiff neck, and then he won his fifth green jacket. Only time will tell. But missing the API or a free-money event in Mexico is one thing. Missing the crown jewel on the PGA Tour's slate -- where you're the two-time champion and still the preeminent talent on display after all these years and years -- is a completely other thing altogether.