Four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods will not play in the 2014 major tournament because of a nagging back injury. Augusta National's storied event won't feature one of golf's all-time greats—and one of the most prolific winners in Masters history.
Woods broke the news on his Twitter account Tuesday:
A story on TigerWoods.com revealed that Woods underwent a procedure on a pinched nerve that had been bothering him:
The procedure was successful, but Woods will be unable to play in the Masters Tournament, instead requiring rest and rehabilitation for the next several weeks.
"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," Tiger added. "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."
Back spasms have flared up on Woods time and again, especially since last year's FedExCup playoff-opening event, The Barclays.
It takes a lot for Woods to back out of a major. At age 38, his time is running out to catch Jack Nicklaus' all-time mark of 18 major titles. Woods himself has 14, but he hasn't seized any of the four prestigious titles since his epic 2008 U.S. Open triumph at Torrey Pines.
Knee and Achilles injuries kept Woods out of the 2011 U.S. and British Opens, and he missed the Open Championship and PGA Championship in 2008 after winning his 14th major on a broken leg. The Masters was the only major Woods hadn't missed.
As for a potential recovery time, Will Carroll of Bleacher Report had more:
"It would take three to six months to make sure that everything worked well with a micro," said an orthopaedic surgeon who did not wish to speak on the record due to his work with golfers. "If [Woods] seizes up at the Masters, maybe he gets more motivated to do something, but right now, he'll do whatever he can to avoid missing another set of majors."
Eamon Lynch of Golf.com broke down Woods' injury history:
ESPN's SportsCenter detailed Woods' performance in majors:
Golf Channel's Jason Sobel outlined the impressive legacy Woods has in his frequent trips down Magnolia Lane:
Woods revealed some details about his status in the weeks leading up to the Masters, per a March 24 report by USA Today's Reid Cherner:
For Augusta it's actually a little too soon to be honest with you. That's kind of the frustrating thing. I've had a couple weeks off, working on trying to get ready for Augusta. As of right now, it's still a little too soon and as I said it's really frustrating.
At that point, the Valero Texas Open and Shell Houston Open had not been played, so there was still plenty of hope to hold out for Woods teeing it up in pursuit of his fifth green jacket.
Even when Woods isn't slipping on the victor's blazer, he seems to always be in contention. In addition to the four wins Woods has at Augusta, he has a whopping eight top-six finishes. He appears due to break through yet again at any point—if only his health will hold up. However, the last time Woods won at Augusta was all the way back in 2005.
Always a preeminent favorite no matter the circumstances as long as he's teeing it up, Woods won't be part of the conversation this time around. The depth on the PGA Tour is as strong as ever, with many major champions rising to the occasion amid Woods' "slump."
Unless Rory McIlroy or Phil Mickelson don't win another major for a number of years, no other golfer will be viewed as slumping at major tournaments other than Woods. That amplifies the pressure on him—despite his immense legacy—to get back into the winner's circle in these events.
The Masters always serves as a golden opportunity for Woods to get back on track. If not for a bizarre drop penalty on the par-five 15th hole during last year's second round, he may have even won the 2013 event instead of settling for a tie for fourth.
How Woods fares moving forward remains a mystery, but with his tenuous health situation and resultant slow start to the 2013-14 season, the majors may continue to be unkind to the world's top-ranked player.
But for now, Woods' focus is getting healthy before returning to the course as he continues to chase Nicklaus. However, his ability to successfully catch the Golden Bear will certainly come into question after this latest setback.