Tiger Woods withdraws from the Masters after back surgery

Tiger Woods was upbeat despite his resignation to the fact that he would be unable to compete in the Masters this year, insisting that he’s still targeting Jack Nicklaus’s record 18 major titles.

Tiger underwent successful back surgery on a pinched nerve in his back after being advised by doctors it was the right move for his “immediate and long-term health.” The 14-time major winner will miss the Masters for the first time in his career.

The world number one withdrew with just five holes remaining in the Honda Classic last month due to back spasms and was then unable to defend his Arnold Palmer Invitational title. He made a statement on his official website which said: "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.

"I'd like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters. It's a week that's very special to me. It also looks like I'll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy.

"I'd also like to thank the fans for their support and concern. It's very kind and greatly appreciated. This is frustrating, but it's something my doctors advised me to do for my immediate and long-term health."

The statement also added that Tiger would be working hard in his rehabilitation and would hopefully be chipping and putting again within three weeks.

"It's tough right now, but I'm absolutely optimistic about the future," Woods continued. "There are a couple [of] records by two outstanding individuals and players that I hope one day to break.

"As I've said many times, Sam [Snead] and Jack [Nicklaus] reached their milestones over an entire career. I plan to have a lot of years left in mine."

Woods has won 79 PGA Tour titles compared to the legendary Sam Snead, who has 82. He also has 14 major titles to Nicklaus’s 18.

The news will be devastating for Tiger fans – and fans of the sport in general – where a strong field at the Masters is always exciting to watch. Woods has played in the Masters every year without fail since his amateur debut in 1995, winning his last of four Green Jackets in 2005.