Tiger Woods, who many thought was faking back troubles to obscure bad play, will miss the Masters after undergoing back surgery earlier this week for a pinched nerve that has been hurting him for several months, the world’s No. 1 player said Tuesday on his website.
It will be the first time in 20 years that Woods will not play in the event.
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.”
Woods, 38, has been suffering from back spasms that were an issue during competition last fall and resurfaced again last month at the Honda Classic, where Woods withdrew during the final round.
“It’s tough right now, but I’m absolutely optimistic about the future,” Woods said in the statement. “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.”
“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,” Woods said in the statement.
“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.”
Woods played the WGC-Cadillac Championship, where he acknowledged that his back bothered him during the tournament and especially during the final round in which he shot 78 — his highest final-round score as a pro.
On March 18, two days prior to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods announced on his website that he would not play in that tournament, which he has won eight times, as his back problems had yet to subside.
On March 24, Woods said it was “too soon” to make a call on the Masters and that “was the frustrating thing about this.”
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.