WASHINGTON: Tiger Woods announced Friday he had lost his battle to be fit for the Masters, saying he was “not tournament ready” for the first major of the year and did not have a timetable for his return.
Woods, whose 14 major titles include four Masters green jackets, has not played since withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic on February 3 with ongoing back spasms.
He made his comeback in December after missing all of the 2015-16 season following back surgery.
“Unfortunately, I won’t be competing in this year’s Masters,” Woods said on his website. “I did about everything I could to play, but my back rehabilitation didn’t allow me the time to get tournament ready.
“I’m especially upset because it’s a special anniversary for me that’s filled with a lot of great memories. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since I won my first green jacket.”
Woods’ historic 1997 victory at Augusta National, when he was 21 years old, was a watershed for golf. He became the first black golfer to win a major, the youngest to capture the Masters and he shattered records in winning by 12 strokes with an 18-under par total.
The out-sized triumph fueled “Tigermania” and even as his health woes have piled up and his on-course performances diminished he remains a massive drawing card.
“I have no timetable for my return, but I will continue my diligent effort to recover, and want to get back out there as soon as possible,” said Woods, who added that he would be in Augusta, Georgia, to attend the annual pre-tournament Champions Dinner.
“Augusta National has been a very important place to me and my family for over 20 years, and while I’m disappointed, it will be good to be back there Tuesday,” said Woods, whose last major title came at the 2008 US Open.--AFP