Orlando, FL, United States (4E Sports) – World No. 1 Tiger Woods announced that he will not play at the Masters after undergoing back surgery earlier this week for a pinched nerve that has been hurting him for several months.
“After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided, in consultation with my doctors, to have this procedure done,” said 38-year-old Woods, who will not play in the event for the first time in 20 years.
“I’d like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters. It’s a week that’s very special to me. It also looks like I’ll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy,” he added.
The microdiscectomy was performed Monday by neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Rich in Park City, Utah.
The statement said Woods will begin “intensive rehabilitation and soft-tissue treatment” within a week, and the goal is for him to return to competition “sometime this summer.”
It is not yet clear whether Woods will return in time for the U.S. Open (at Pinehurst No. 2 on June 12-15) or the Open Championship (at Royal Liverpool on July 17-20).
“It’s tough right now, but I’m absolutely optimistic about the future,” Woods said. “There are a couple [of] records by two outstanding individuals and players that I hope one day to break. As I’ve said many times, Sam [Snead] and Jack [Nicklaus] reached their milestones over an entire career. I plan to have a lot of years left in mine.”
Woods has played in every Masters since 1995, when he was an amateur. The following year, he missed his only cut at Augusta National just a few months prior to turning pro.
In 1997, in his first major championship as a pro, Woods won the Masters by a record 12 shots, the first of his 14 major titles. He went on to win the Masters in 2001, ’02 (only the fourth to defend his title at Augusta National) and ’05.
The Masters begins April 10, and this will complete a different kind of slam for Woods. He now will have missed all four majors as a pro due to injury.