The world's No. 1 player announced on his web site Tuesday that he will be unable to play in the Masters next week after having successful surgery for a pinched nerve in his back. The surgery was performed Monday in Park City, Utah, by neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Rich.
It will be the first Masters the four-time champion at Augusta National will miss since he first played as an amateur in 1995.
"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.
"I'd also like to thank the fans for their support and concern. It's very kind and greatly appreciated. This is frustrating, but it's something my doctors advised me to do for my immediate and long-term health."
It will be the fifth major championship Woods will have missed since 2008.
Within a week, Woods wrote that he will begin intensive rehabilitation and soft-tissue treatment. With an OK from his doctors, Woods could begin chipping and putting in three weeks.
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Woods said his goal is to resume playing this summer. He wrote that there should be no long-lasting effects from the surgery, and it should not impact the longevity of his career. He is still eyeing the records hold by Jack Nicklaus for most major championships won (18) and Sam Snead for most PGA Tour titles won (82). Woods has been stuck on 14 majors since winning the 2008 U.S. Open on a bad leg. He won five Tour titles last year to move to 79.
"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 and Jack reached their milestones over an entire career. I plan to have a lot of years left in mine."
He has been hindered by back spasms since last August, when he fell to his knees during the final round of The Barclays after hitting a shot on the 13th hole.
Earlier this year, he withdrew with five holes to play in the final round of the Honda Classic, then was bothered by his back the following week at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. Two weeks later, Woods, an eight-time winner at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, withdrew from that tournament before it started in what was supposed to be his final tune-up for the Masters.
Woods, 38, missed the 2008 British Open and PGA Championship after having reconstructive left knee surgery after winning the U.S. Open that year, his 14th and last triumph in a major. He also missed the 2011 U.S. Open and British Open because of an Achilles injury he suffered while hitting a shot off the pine straw under the Eisenhower Tree in the 2011 Masters.
He also dealt with an elbow injury during last year's U.S. Open and was forced to withdraw from his own AT&T National two weeks later. He withdrew from The Players Championship in 2010 (neck injury) and 2011 (Achilles).