Crestfallen Woods won't compete at Masters

WASHINGTON • Tiger Woods announced on Friday he had lost his battle to be fit for the Masters this week, 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 Feb 3 with ongoing back spasms.

He made his comeback in December after missing all of the 2015 to 2016 season due to back surgery.

But his return has run aground, with the American withdrawing from the Genesis Open in Los Angeles in February, the Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month.

"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 total.

Woods won his second Masters in 2001, completing the "Tiger Slam" of four Major championship victories in a row.

His 2002 victory made him the first back-to-back winner since England's Nick Faldo in 1989 and 1990.

Woods last won the Masters in 2005, and his announcement on Friday marks the third time in four years that he will miss it.

"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," added Woods, whose 14 Major titles are second on the all-time list to the 18 of Jack Nicklaus.

Now 41, he has not won a Major title since he clinched victory at the 2008 US Open.

Woods, however, said that he would be in Augusta to attend the 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 on Tuesday," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 02, 2017, with the headline 'Crestfallen Woods won't compete at Masters'. Print Edition | Subscribe