Tiger Woods, the best golfer in the entire world, is going to miss the Masters this year in Augusta for the first time since 1994 due to a recent surgery treating a pinched nerve in his back.
“After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided, in consultation with my doctors, to have this procedure done,” Woods says. “I’d like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters.”
Woods began to exhibit signs of back pain in 2012 at Barclays, and he began to clutch his back after just a few swings during last year’s PGA Championship. Two weeks afterwards, Woods fell to his knees in pain while hitting a shot in the final round. Woods withdrew this year during the Honda Classic’s last round because of back spasms.
Though the golfer is only 38–a pro golfer’s prime–his neck, knees, and elbows are pushing 48 or older. Woods is going to start intensive physical rehab and soft-tissue treatment within the week, which may allow him to start hitting the green later on this month. Though he didn’t specify when exactly, his ultimate goal is to resume the PGA Tour “sometime this summer.” Between rest and rehab, Woods thinks that he still has a good chance of winning another major this season.
This pinched nerve is only the latest installment in the saga of Woods’s breaking body. In 2008, he had reconstructive knee surgery. In 2010, he had a neck injury. In 2011, there was the Achilles injury. In 2013, the elbow injury.
“A lot of the wear and tear has come from the way he did his training,” says Terry Ulleseit, VP at Hole-in-One U.S.A. “He probably did so much running and weight training, almost like he was training to be a football player. Most of the time, golf players have a great deal of longevity.”
However, breaking down is far from being broken down. Despite the milieu of injuries, the man won five tournaments last year, and was named the player of the year by the PGA Tour.
Tiger’s missing the tournament will likely mean that the Masters will suffer considering how much he’s meant to the tournament. Odds are that less TV viewers will tune in. Historically speaking, Tiger finished out of contention in 2012, placing in a tie for 40th, which was also a slump year for the athlete. That year, the Masters had their lowest ratings in about a decade.
No matter what prize the Masters’ contest insurance can get to promote TV viewership, the Masters will survive without Woods.
“It’s tough right now,” said Woods, “but I’m absolutely optimistic about the future.”