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Tiger Woods to miss Masters after back surgery

updated 10:36 AM EDT, Thu April 3, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tiger Woods will miss the Masters after back surgery
  • The world No. 1 had an operation on a pinched nerve
  • The American has not missed the Augusta National event since making his debut in 1995
  • Woods has won the Masters on four occasions

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(CNN) -- Tiger Woods will not play in next week's Masters after undergoing successful back surgery, the world No. 1 announced Tuesday.

The 14-time major winner will miss the tournament for the first time since making his debut at Augusta National as an amateur in 1995.

On Monday, he had an operation on a pinched nerve "that has been hurting him for several months."

"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, who has donned the green jacket on four occasions, said in a statement.

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Although the surgery was successfully performed in Utah by neurosurgeon Dr Charles Rich, Woods now needs to rest and rehabilitate for "the next several weeks."

"I'd like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters," the 38-year-old 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."

Woods has been struggling since last year with the back injury, which has severely hampered his game in the opening months of 2014.

In early March, the condition forced him to stop playing after 13 holes of his final round at the Honda Classic.

When he tried to return to action the following week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami, he aggravated the injury when tweaking his back.

On March 18, he withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational, explaining that neither the back spasms nor pain had subsided and telephoning Palmer personally to apologize for his absence.

Read: Woods aggravates back injury

This year's Masters begins on Thursday April 10.

The course is a special place for Woods, who won his maiden major at Augusta in 1997.

Beating the field by an astonishing 12 strokes, the then 21-year-old announced his arrival in imperious fashion.

He has won the coveted green jacket another three times since: in 2001, 2002 and 2005.

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An indication of Woods' devotion to the Masters is that he made his long-awaited return to golf in 2010 at Augusta following the well-documented breakdown of his marriage.

The tournament had been the only major he had never missed, with a succession of injuries ruling him out of the British Open, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship at various times since 2008.

'Further Damage'

In a statement on his website, it was suggested Woods will "begin intensive rehabilitation and soft-tissue treatment within a week."

The aim is for one of the game's most legendary figures to return in the summer, with the press release stating that "Woods could have sustained further damage if he had continued to play."

Despite the disappointment of missing one of his favorite tournaments, Woods remains focused on cementing his place in the golfing firmament.

"It's tough right now, but I'm absolutely optimistic about the future," said Woods, whose last major came in 2008.

"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."

Nicknamed 'The Golden Bear', 70-year-old Nicklaus' record of 18 career majors is the main target in Woods' sights.

Meanwhile, Sam Snead, who died in 2002 at the age of 89, won more PGA Tour titles than any other golfer but his 82 victories are just three ahead of Woods' tally.

Both players' careers spanned at least 25 years, so allowing Woods -- who turned professional 18 years ago -- plenty of time to chase his targets.

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