Tiger Woods will miss his first Masters in 20 years after undergoing back surgery for a pinched nerve.
The 14-time major winner and four-time winner of the green jacket at Augusta National released the news via his website on Tuesday.
“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 of the microdiscectomy.
“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.”
The 38-year-old has been suffering from back spasms since the US PGA tour playoffs of 2013, with the issue resurfacing over the last few months.
It forced withdrawals from two tournaments and contributed to his career worst final round in another.
Woods has played in every Masters since 1995, when he was an amateur.
His only missed cut came the following year, still as an amateur, before he demolished the field in 1997, his first major championship as a professional, winning by a record 12 shots.
He also triumphed at Augusta National in 2001, 2002 and 2005.
Since his last victory at Augusta, Woods has seven top-10 finishes in eight appearances and six top-5s, including last year, when he tied for fourth, four strokes behind winner Adam Scott.
The surgery was performed on Monday in Park City, Utah, by neurosurgeon Dr Charles Rich with Woods to begin intensive rehabilitation and soft-tissue treatment within a week.
Woods is hopeful of returning to competition sometime in the American summer with the US Open at Pinehurst coming on June 12-15.
There should be no long-lasting effects from the surgery, and it shouldn’t impact the longevity of his career.
Woods is still chasing Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships and Sam Snead’s 82 PGA tour wins. He sits at 14 and 79 wins respectively.
“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.”