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Sports

Tiger Woods cuts himself from Masters line-up

media Tiger Woods, who has won 14 major titles, has ruled himself out of the first major event of the year. Reuters/Mike Segar

The hunt for a 15th major will have to wait. On Friday night Tiger Woods bowed to what appears to be an increasingly fragile body and pulled out of one of golf’s blue-riband events through injury. Woods conceded he had lost his battle to be fit for the Masters in Augusta, saying he was not tournament ready.

The bad news for his legions of admirers was bleakened with the admission that he was unsure as to when he would go back to the circuit he once dominated.

Woods, whose 14 major titles include four Masters green jackets, has not played since withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic on 3 February with back spasms.

The former world number one returned to the tour in December after missing all of the 2015-16 season in the wake of back surgery.

But his voyage to recapture his former lustre has run aground. The 41-year-old withdrew from the Genesis Open in Los Angeles in February as well as the Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.

"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."

When he clinched the 1997 Masters, he, in a stroke, became the first black golfer to win a major, the youngest at 21 to capture the Masters and he shattered records in winning by 12 strokes with an 18-under par 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 while the last of his 14 majors came at the 2008 US Open.

During a recent tour promoting his book about his 1997 Masters victory, Woods said on television's Good Morning America that he was unable to train enough to prepare for the rigours of playing four rounds over four days at a major event.

"I have no timetable for my return,” he said on Friday. “But I will continue my diligent effort to recover. I want to get back out there as soon as possible."

Though he will be absent from the playing fields, Woods, whose 14 major titles are second on the all-time list to the 18 of Jack Nicklaus, said 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 not to play, it will be good to be back there on Tuesday.”

 

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