Pros advice

Tiger Woods unsure about Masters involvement

Can Tiger Woods and his ailing back hold up enough for him to play at The Masters in two weeks’ time? The World No.1 is not too sure.

''For Augusta, it's actually still a little too soon, to be honest with you,'' Woods said Monday at a news conference. ''That's kind of the frustrating thing about this.''

Those aren’t the words which avid Tiger fans would have been hoping to hear from their hero, but all signs point to the fact Woods has struggled consistently with back issues and doesn’t look at all right in himself right now.

The Masters is the only major tournament 38-year-old Woods has never missed; earning four of his 14 major titles at Augusta National, including his first in 1997. The last time he pulled on the coveted green jacket was in 2005, but the chances of seeing similar scenes this time around appear bleak.

Woods has so far endured his worst ever start in 18 years on tour after being plagued by back problems. He hauled himself off the field in the final round at the Honda Classic on March 2 citing spasms in his lower back, before trying and failing to defend his title the following week at Doral when his back flared up again in the final round.

His miserable run continued last week as he was forced to withdraw from the Arnold Palmer Invitational because the back pain was so persistent.

''I've had a couple weeks off and getting treatment and just working on trying to get ready for Augusta,'' Woods said on Monday. ''As of right now, it's still too soon, which is, as I said, pretty frustrating.''

Although Tiger has battled back problems in the past, this has been the longest sustained issue and cost him the most dearly. His first showing of back pain came at Bethpage Black at The Barclays in 2012, which he attributed to a soft bed at his hotel. He complained of feeling twinges during the final round of the PGA Championship last year, but moved quickly to say the pain he felt at The Barclays two weeks later was unrelated.

At Monday’s news conference, Woods also discussed a deal which is set to run from now through 2017 for his tournament to be called the Quicken Loans National. It will be played between June 26-29 at Congressional this year. AT&T was in the final year of its contract as a sponsor.

The AT&T National started in 2007 with a military theme built around the Fourth of July in the nation's capital. It has been held at Congressional for all but two years, in 2010 and 2011, as the course prepared to host the U.S. Open. In those years, it was played at Aronimink outside Philadelphia.

Congressional is under contract through 2014, and Woods said there will be a vote next week to determine whether the club would host every other year in 2016, 2018 and 2020.