(CNN) -- Tiger Woods was forced to pull out of the final round of the Players Championship at Sawgrass on Sunday with a neck injury.
Woods lasted until the seventh hole before calling it a day. He was two-over for the round and two-under for the prestigious tournament, but trailing the leaders, when he quit.
South African Tim Clark eventually won the 'fifth major' with a superb five-under-par 67 to close on 16-under 272.
"I've been playing with a bad neck for a while," Woods told gathered reporters.
"I might have a bulging disk. They want me to get a picture on it next week.
"I've been playing through it. I can't play through it any more," he said. "I know playing doesn't help it," he added.
Woods revealed he had been troubled by the pain before last month's Masters, where he finished tied for fourth.
It was his first tournament of the year after a self-imposed exile following his revelations of marital infidelities.
The world number one was in action again at the Quail Hollow tournament in North Carolina last week where he easily missed the cut after two sorry rounds.
"I'm having a hard time with the pain," Woods said.
"There's tingling down my fingers, just the right side. Setting up over the ball is fine but once I start making the motion, it's downhill from there."
Woods is under pressure for his world number one spot from Phil Mickelson, who won the Masters and has been in tremendous form on the PGA Tour.
The 34-year-old last pulled out of a tournament in 2006 at the Nissan Open in Los Angeles when he had flu.
If the injury proves long-standing it could affect his build to the second major of the season, the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in mid-June.
Mickelson could have leapfrogged Woods if he had won the Players, but he shot a closing 74 to tie for 17th.
England's Lee Westwood led going into the back nine on the final day, but a series of lapses, including a double bogey on the notorious short 17th, ended his hopes.
Clark, who was winning for the first time on the PGA Tour, charged through the field to set the clubhouse target, with Australian Robert Allenby finishing second, one shot behind, after failing with birdie attempts on the final two holes.