Tiger Woods won’t play in the Masters for the third time in the last four years, announcing Friday night on his website that rehabilitation on his back didn’t allow him enough time to prepare.
“I did about everything I could to play, but my back rehabilitation didn’t allow me the time to get tournament ready,” Woods said on his website.
He still plans to be at Augusta National, but only for dinner with past Masters champions on Tuesday night, just like last year.
Augusta National checked on Woods’ status Thursday before sending out its press conference schedule for Masters week. Woods did not know if he could play, so the club held onto his 1 p.m. Tuesday spot just in case.
Woods missed the Masters for the first time in 2014 because of the first of what would be three surgeries on his back. He played in 2015 despite taking off two months with chipping problems, and he tied for 17th.
He missed the cut in the other three majors that year, had two more back surgeries and missed 15 months of competition to let it heal. But after an upbeat return in the Bahamas at his unofficial Hero World Challenge, Woods curiously signed up for four tournaments in a five-week stretch, including going to Dubai.
He missed the cut at Torrey Pines, a place where he has won eight times as a pro. And after a 77 in easy conditions at Dubai in early February, he withdrew the next day, citing back spasms. Woods also cited back spasms for withdrawing from his own tournament at Riviera — he even withdrew from a press conference at the Genesis Open, which supports his foundation — and from the Honda Classic.
Woods also missed the Arnold Palmer Invitational. And now the wait continues for Woods, once golf’s dominant force, now its biggest mystery.
“I think injury has a lot to do with it, but the injury is not just his body, but his mind,” Jack Nicklaus said in an interview last month.
“Mentally, I think he’s had a hard time with what’s happened, because every time he turns around, he hurts himself,” Nicklaus said. “And instead he’s saying, ‘When am I going to get over this?’ … He may physically be hurt. You guys don’t know. I don’t know. I really don’t have an answer. I just know that the guy looks great, talks great, mentally he sounds sharp. So what’s happening?”
Woods said there was no timetable for a return to competition.
“But I will continue my diligent effort to recover, and want to get back out there as soon as possible,” he said.
Woods has signed endorsement deals over the last four months with Monster Energy on his golf bag, and equipment deals to play with TaylorMade clubs and Bridgestone golf balls. He still has an apparel contract with Nike.
Woods said he was particularly disappointed because this is the 20-year anniversary of his first victory at the Masters, a record-shattering, game-changing, 12-shot victory at age 21.
He was in New York last week to promote a book he wrote about the 1997 Masters.
Woods won the Masters four times, most recently in 2005 in a playoff over Chris DiMarco. The Masters remains the only major where he has never missed the cut as a pro.