Four-time US Masters champions Tiger Woods has ruled himself out of next week’s competition at Augusta National due to a back injury.
The 40-year-old has been out of action since August and has undergone two rounds of surgery in a bid to cure the problem.
But the first major tournament of 2016 comes too soon for Woods, who won the green jacket in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005, and although he says his recovery is “making progress”, he has put no timescale on his return to action.
He said in a statement on his website: “After assessing the present condition of my back, and consulting with my medical team, I’ve decided it’s prudent to miss this year’s Masters.
“I’ve been hitting balls and training daily, but I’m not physically ready. I’ve said all along that this time I need to be cautious and do what’s best for my long-term health and career.
“Unfortunately, playing Augusta next week wouldn’t be the right decision. I’m absolutely making progress, and I’m really happy with how far I’ve come, but I still have no timetable to return to competitive golf.”
Despite not entering the competition, Woods will still travel to Augusta to attend the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night.
“I’d like to express my disappointment to Billy Payne, the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I won’t be competing,” he added. “It’s a very important and special week to me, and it’s upsetting to miss it. I do plan to attend the Champions Dinner and see a lot of old friends.
“I’d like to thank the fans for their concern and support. The last few years have been difficult, but I have the best fans anywhere, and I want them to know that.”
It is the second time in three years that Woods has missed the tournament after also pulling out in 2014 with a back injury. He finished tied-17th last year.