Tiger Has Back Surgery; Withdraws from Masters

Tiger Woods won't be vying for his fifth green jacket in two weeks. The game's No. 1-ranked player announced on Tuesday that he won't be playing in the 2014 Masters after undergoing surgery on his back for a pinched nerve.

"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 on his website.

"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 has played in the every Masters since 1995 (as an amateur), winning it in 1997 (his first of 14 major titles), 2001, '02 and '05.

"This is frustrating, but it's something my doctors advised me to do for my immediate and long-term health," he added in the statement (http://www.tigerwoods.com/news/2014/04/01/70599322/tiger-unable-to-play-in-the-masters-after-successful-microdiscectomy/).

"It's tough right now, but I'm absolutely optimistic about the future. 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."

The microdiscectomy procedure 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.

Woods hopes to return to competition by this summer, which probably puts his participation in the U.S. Open in mid-June at Pinehurst No. 2 in doubt.

"Tiger was gracious in keeping us updated of his condition and making us aware of his decision," Masters chairman Billy Payne said in a statement. "We wholeheartedly offered our best wishes for his immediate and long-term recovery. ... He is one of our most decorated champions and we look forward to his healthy return in 2015 and beyond."

Woods began suffering back spasms last fall. They resurfaced in March at the Honda Classic, where he withdrew after completing 63 holes because of the pain. The following week in the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral his back was again troublesome, leading to a 78 on Sunday, Woods' highest final-round score as a pro.

He then withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitation, where he had won eight times, because of the injury.