It is the second successive year that the former world number one has pulled out of the tournament -- he withdrew from the final round last year, after six holes, due to a neck injury.
The 14-times Major winner came into the Players, known as the 'fifth major', after suffering knee and Achilles tendon injuries and said he had hurt himself on the first tee shot.
"The knee acted up and then the Achilles followed after that and then the calf started cramping up. Everything started getting tight, so it's just a whole chain reaction," said Woods, who has dropped to his lowest world rankings - eighth - for more than 14 years..
"This morning, it felt fine during warm-up and then as I played it got progressively worse."
Asked how bad the pain was, he added: "I'm having a hard time walking."
One of his playing partners, fellow American Matt Kuchar, said it was clear that Woods was in great difficulty.
"Tiger looked like he was in pain today," Kuchar added.
"You could tell he was walking quite slowly, quite gingerly. It looked like he was putting it great and driving it great but the other clubs weren't so good for him."
After bogeying the first hole, he found water twice at the par-four fourth where he ended with a triple bogey.
Further bogeys came on the fifth and ninth holes for Woods, who walked slowly and deliberately on the final holes before quitting.
He missed last week's tournament at Quail Hollow due to injury and Tuesday played his first nine holes since last month's Masters -- where he picked up the knee ligament injury during the third round.
Woods conceded he might have been wiser to withdraw earlier on Thursday rather than battle to the turn but said he had been given the go-ahead to play at TPC Sawgrass from his doctors.
"They said I could play. The more rest I get, the better it would be, obviously.
"It's a big event. I wanted to come back for it and play and unfortunately I wasn't able to finish," he said.
Woods' latest setback comes barely a month before the US
Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.
Having missed out at Augusta, Woods had been targeting the US Open, which he has won three times, as a chance to get back to winning ways in the majors.
But now his future plans look very uncertain and he said it was too early to discuss them.
"I don't know. I just finished nine holes. Give me a few days to see what the docs say and we'll take a look at it," he said.