Golf: Tiger still unsure of Masters start in two weeks

WASHINGTON (AFP) - World No.1 Tiger Woods said on Monday he remains uncertain if he will be able to play in the Masters despite two weeks of rest and treatment for back spasms.

Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record 18 won by Jack Nicklaus, withdrew from last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where he has won eight times including last year, owing to nagging back pain.

A year after he won five tournaments and appeared set for a solid run in the majors in 2014, his status for the Masters on April 10-13 remains in doubt even with a potential four weeks of rest for his aching back.

"For Augusta, it's actually still a little too soon," Woods said. "That's the frustrating thing about this.

"I've had a couple of weeks off and getting treatment and working on trying to get it ready for Augusta.

"As of right now, still too soon, which is very frustrating."

The 38-year-old American struggled to a 78 in the final round of the World Golf Championships event at Doral earlier this month, visibly bothered by back pain over the final holes, and pulled out of the final round of the Honda Classic the week before.

Woods was asked about the details of his injury but did not address specifics. A Golfweek magazine report last week said Woods was suffering from a bulging disc but it would not require surgery.

Any operation might jeopardise Woods beyond the Masters in a year where the other majors are played on courses where he has won, Valhalla for the PGA Championship and Hoylake for the British Open, or finished second, with the US Open at Pinehurst, where he was the 2005 runner-up.

Woods has won four times at Augusta National but has not taken a Masters green jacket since 2005. He has not won any major title since the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines, when he limped through an 18-hole play-off to defeat Rocco Mediate.

Woods spoke in Washington just down the street from the US Capitol and White House to announce a new sponsor for his charity foundation's US PGA Tour event at nearby Congressional Country Club.

In a putting contest with members of the military, Woods missed on three attempts, a poor omen for the undulating greens of Augusta National where precise putting is always at a premium.

Congressional Country Club members have until the end of the month to submit votes on whether or not to continue hosting the US PGA National in even-numbered years.

Woods says he is looking at other area courses that could serve as host of the event in odd-numbered years starting in 2015, with potentially more events if Congressional turns down any host role after this year.

"This event was started in DC and we would like to keep it here," he said.

Woods mentioned two potential courses were at Avenel in Potomac, which hosted a prior tour event, and the Robert Trent Jones course in northern Virginia, which hosted the first three Presidents Cups.

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