Tiger Woods has pulled out of the 2014 US Masters after undergoing minor surgery on an on-going back problem.
Woods has been suffering with a pinched nerve in his back for several months now and had to have the problem operated on to solve it.
It is the first time he will miss the Masters in his professional career - which started back in 1996.
Woods said: "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.
"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."
He also took to Twitter to announce that "he has undergone a successful microdiscectomy for a pinched nerve that has been hurting him for several months. The surgery was performed Monday in Park City, Utah, by neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Rich."
He added: “Sad to say I'm missing the Masters. Thanks to the fans for so many kind wishes."
Woods’ back problems flared-up at the thirteenth hole of the final round, in The Barclays tournament at the Westchester Country Club . After hitting a decent drive, he had a good position on the fairway and addressed the ball as normal, as he looked to play a long iron shot onto the green. But after hitting the shot, which went wildly left, he was brought to his knees in visible pain.
A man who has battled through the pain to compete in many a tournament previously, Woods is not one to give up without a fight, but this time the pain was too much. He had to give up. It was the last time he was seen hitting a golf ball.
In an interview with the Washington Post, before today’s announcement, he said that he was still desperate to play at Augusta: “I’ve been chipping and putting at home, but I haven’t done that much. I’ve been listening to my doctors and to my therapists.”
“That’s kind of the frustrating thing about this. I’ve had a couple of weeks off and getting treatment and just working on trying to get ready for Augusta.”
However, Woods lost his race for fitness and will now have to miss the competition and his wait, which has lasted since 2005, for a Masters title will continue.
That said, even if he had competed, there is a serious question mark over whether Woods would have been anywhere near the top of the leader-board.
Of course, if everything was measured on natural talent then Woods would be virtually unstoppable, but the most successful golfer on the tour experienced preparation that was far from ideal and he also hasn’t won a tour tournament since the Bridgestone Invitational back in August of last year.
Make no mistake about it; Woods isn’t the golfing juggernaut that he once was. In recent years he has traded his massive driving game, to try and bring some accuracy to his game and has been seen taking a long-iron off the tee at Augusta – and elsewhere - on regular occasions, where he previously would have ripped one of his famous drives, to ensure he hits the fairway.
Woods is struggling and if he is to catch Jack Nicklaus’ major record then he is running out of time to find the form that he once had. Whether he ever will, with all that has gone on not just on-the-course but off it, is questionable, and today’s news is another set-back in his quest to over-take the 18-time major champions as the most successful golfer of all time.
Most golf fans, though, will be hoping that by next year Woods will be back to somewhere closer to his best and on the final day that famous red-shirt is being worn with Tiger roaring and ready to pounce. Just like the old days.
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