Woods to miss Masters for first time in 20 years

 
Frank Dalleres
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WORLD No1 Tiger Woods’s wait for another Major title is set to reach the six-year mark after he was ruled out of next week’s Masters following surgery on a back injury.

Woods has been ordered to rest after undergoing an operation on a pinched nerve that had hampered his form and forced him to abandon last month’s Honda Classic and miss the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The American, who is chasing Jack Nicklaus’s all-time record of 18 Major wins but has been stuck on 14 since 2008, has four Masters titles and has not missed the Augusta event since his debut in 1995.

“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. 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 said he planned to resume practice in three weeks and return to competition later this summer. It casts doubt on his participation in the year’s remaining three Majors, but the 38-year-old insists the procedure was necessary to prolong his career.

“It’s tough right now, but I’m absolutely optimistic about the future,” added Woods, who is also just three PGA Tour wins short of Sam Snead’s record of 82.

“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.”

Woods’s withdrawal last night left Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy as the bookmakers’ favourite for the Masters, the year’s first Major. Three-time Augusta champion Phil Mickelson is also an injury doubt after pulling out of last week’s Valero Texas Open with a side muscle strain.