Tiger Woods Reportedly May Not Play in 2017 Masters, Agent Disputes Claim

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2017

In this Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 photo, Tiger Woods reacts on hole 10th during the 1st round of the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the Dubai Desert Classic with an apparent back injury after shooting an opening-round 5-over 77. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Kamran Jebreili/Associated Press

The odds are reportedly against Tiger Woods being healthy enough to return for the 2017 Masters, which starts April 6. 

Per Brian Wacker of Golf Digest, Woods is "unlikely" to make it back for the Masters since he's been unable to "play or practice" due to lingering back issues. 

Wacker cited two different sources, with one saying, "I would be shocked if [Woods] plays anytime soon.” Another one who saw Woods recently noted the 14-time major champion "didn't look good."

However, Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, refuted the claim, per Nick Menta of the Golf Channel:

I have no idea who Mr. Wacker’s really close sources are. I can tell you this, nobody spoke to him (Wacker); so how he could know something that Tiger and I don’t know is comical. I talked to Tiger four hours ago on the phone. We’re not in a situation to even talk about playing in the Masters now. He’s gotten treatments and is progressing and hoping he can do it. There’s not been a decision one way or the other. I couldn’t give you a fair assessment, but to say it’s doubtful is an absolutely inaccurate statement.

After missing 15 months following back surgery in September 2015, Woods returned to the PGA Tour for the Hero World Challenge in December. He finished 15th out of 17, which included a second-round 65, and appeared to be heading in the right direction. 

Woods tried to play back-to-back weeks at the Farmers Insurance Open at the end of January and Dubai Desert Classic in February. He missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and was forced to withdraw from the Dubai Desert Classic after the first round. 

Steinberg told reporters that Woods was suffering back spasms Thursday after his first round at Dubai: 

Tiger Woods went into a spasm in his lower back fairly late last night...got treatment done early this morning for 3 1-2 hours, but can't get it out. He says it's not the nerve, but back spasm, and he can't get the spasms to calm down. He can move around, but he can't make a full rotation in his swing.

Woods has since withdrawn from the Genesis Open, Honda Classic and this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational. 

If Woods is unable to be ready for the Masters, it will be the second straight year he hasn't made the trip to Augusta and fifth consecutive major tournament he will miss. 

The 41-year-old Woods last won on the PGA Tour at the Bridgestone Invitational in August 2013. His last major victory was at the 2008 U.S. Open.