Tiger Woods has announced that he will not play in the Masters Tournament this year. The announcement came Tuesday morning by Woods via Twitter and his website tigerwoods.com.
Woods, the world’s No. 1 player, underwent microdiscectomy surgery Monday for a pinched nerve in his back that had caused him discomfort during the past month, forcing him to withdraw from the Honda Classic in March. The following week at the WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral, Woods admitted that the back bothered him even though he completed the tournament. He shot 78 in the final round. He then withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational the following week, igniting speculation about his availability for the Masters Tournament.
The surgery took place in Park City, Utah and was successful, but Woods now requires several weeks of rest and rehabilitation and will not be healthy enough for the Masters next week. Tiger expressed his disappointment on Twitter and thanked his fans for “so many kind wishes.” According to his website, Tiger could begin light work on chipping and putting in three weeks, pending approval from his doctors. The goal is for him to return to competition this summer.
Tiger’s withdrawal is a blow for the Masters Tournament too. Chairman for Augusta National Billy Payne offered Tiger his wishes for an “immediate and long-term recovery,” and made sure to point out that Woods had kept his organization in the loop through every development of his condition and decision. Woods has won the Masters four times, including his first as a pro in 1997 by a record 12 strokes. Since his last win in 2005 he has finished in the top-10 seven times, including a tie for fourth last year, four shots behind champion Adam Scott.
For Tiger Woods it is yet another setback in his quest to catch Jack Nicklaus’ lifetime record of 18 Major Championships. He has been stuck on 14 majors since 2006. This year looked especially good for Tiger, having already won on three of the four venues slated for this summer; Augusta, Royal Liverpool and Valhalla. The U.S. Open will be at Pinehurst, where Woods has finished in the top three both times he has played in the event at the iconic North Carolina course.
Now the officials at Augusta National must wait on word from another of their favorite sons, Phil Mickelson. Mickelson had to withdraw from the Texas Valero Open last week because of a pulled oblique muscle, and the golf world awaits an announcement from Lefty’s camp on the extent of his injury. Mickelson’s routine is to play a tournament the week before he plays in a major, and that would be the Shell Houston Open beginning on Thursday. The course is groomed much like Augusta National, giving Phil and other players a great tune-up for the Masters. The sword is double-edged here. If Mickelson decides to give his oblique one more week to ensure his health for Augusta, his game may suffer for lack of preparation. If he attempts to play in Houston and re-injures the muscle there is a chance that he, too, might join Tiger Woods on the WD list for the 2014 Masters.
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky