Tiger Woods to miss Masters after back surgery
World's No. 1 golfer recovering from surgery on pinched nerve
Tiger Woods will not play in next week's Masters at Augusta National, confirming his absence on Twitter and on his website.
"Sad to say I'm missing the Masters," he tweeted Tuesday. "Thanks to the fans for so many kind wishes."
Woods, 38, hampered by back problems, revealed that he underwent minimally invasive spine surgery on a pinched nerve that had been nagging him for months.
The successful microdiscectomy to relieve pressure and pain caused by a herniated disc was performed Monday in Park City, Utah, by neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Rich.
I'll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on rehabilitation and getting healthy- Tiger Woods
"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. "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."
"Tiger was gracious in keeping us updated of his condition and making us aware of his decision," Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said. "We wholeheartedly offered our best wishes for his immediate and long-term recovery."
Woods, the world's No. 1 player, was off to the worst start of his prolific career, failing to finish the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and being forced to withdraw from the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens with five holes remaining in the final round.
The pain flared up again a week later en route to an uncharacteristically bloated final round of 78 in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.
Woods then skipped the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where he was the two-time defending champion.
"This is frustrating," said Woods, who struggled with back issues last season, too.
"But it's something my doctors advised me to do for my immediate and long-term health."
'It's tough right now'
Woods recently expressed uncertainty over whether or not the discomfort would prevent him from competing April 10 in the Masters, a tournament he has won four times (1997, 2001-02, 2005).
It will mark the first time that he has missed the season's first major since making his debut at Augusta National as an amateur in 1995.
"Tiger will be in our thoughts and will be missed by our patrons and all of us at the Masters tournament next week," Payne said.
"I know Tiger has been working very hard to return to form, and as I have said many times, Tiger has a lot of years of good golf ahead of him," Jack Nicklaus said. "I hate to see him robbed of some of that time by injury. But we all know he is doing what is in the best interest of his health and future. I wish him well on a speedy recovery."
Nicklaus played 154 straight majors for which he was eligible until he missed the 1998 British Open because of an ailing left hip that he had replaced a year later. Nicklaus rarely had injury problems in compiling 18 professional majors, the record that Woods wants. Woods has been stuck on 14 majors for six years.
Woods has had four surgeries on his left knee, and now his biggest concern is his back.
"It's tough right now," Woods said. "But I'm absolutely optimistic about the future."
Woods remains four shy of the record of 18 major wins held by Jack Nicklaus and within three of Sam Snead's mark of 82 PGA Tour wins.
"As I've said many times, Sam and Jack reached their milestones over an entire career," Woods said. "I plan to have a lot of years left in mine."
With files from The Associated Press