Tiger Woods is coming to town for dinner next week, but he’s not staying to play the Masters Tournament.
At 7:30 p.m. Friday night, Woods released a statement that he’s not “tournament ready” and would be skipping his third Masters in four years, this time on the 20th anniversary of his major breakthrough in Augusta in 1997.
“Unfortunately, I won’t be competing in this year’s Masters,” read the statement on TigerWoods.com. “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.”
As has become a custom with all of Woods’ other recent withdrawals since he pulled out after shooting a 77 in the first round in Dubai on Feb. 2, Woods said he has “no timetable for my return.”
Woods said he will attend the Champions Dinner on Tuesday night, where defending champion Danny Willett will host members of the green jacket club.
“I look forward to seeing a lot of old friends,” Woods’ statement said.
It’s the third time in four years that Woods has withdrawn late from the Masters since undergoing microdiscectomy surgery on his back days before the tournament in 2014. Woods returned to play in 2015, finishing tied for fourth, but was sidelined again last April when he ended up missing the entire PGA Tour season after multiple back surgeries late in 2015.
Woods said he still hoped to play 11 days ago when he appeared in public for the first time since Feb. 2 to promote the release of his new book on the 1997 Masters. He told USA Today, “I do have a chance. …. I just need to get to a point where I feel like I’m good enough, and I’m healthy enough to do it.”
Woods missed 18 months after tying for 10th in the 2015 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., and finally returned with much optimism to the Hero World Challenge he hosted in the Bahamas in December. He led the 18-player field with 24 birdies on the week, though he finished next to last.
But when he made his 2017 debut at Torrey Pines in January, he looked less confident and missed the cut. A week later in Dubai, he walked gingerly and withdrew after a birdie-free opening 77 citing back spasms. He pulled out of three planned starts since and his doctors suggested he not even sit down for an interview at Riviera.
“I will continue my diligent effort to recover, and want to get back out there as soon as possible,” he said in his announcement on Friday.
Woods won four Masters among his 14 major championships, including his first title by a record 12 strokes in 1997. His last Masters victory was in 2005 and he hasn’t won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open.