Tiger Woods won’t play in the Masters for the third time in the last four years, announcing Friday night on his website that rehabilitation on his back didn’t allow him enough time to prepare.
“I did about everything I could to play, but my back rehabilitation didn’t allow me the time to get tournament ready,” Woods said on his website.
He still plans to be at Augusta National, but only for dinner with past Masters champions on Tuesday night, just like last year.
Augusta National checked on Woods’ status Thursday before sending out its press conference schedule for Masters week. Woods did not know if he could play, so the club held onto his 1 p.m. Tuesday spot just in case.
Woods missed the Masters for the first time in 2014 because of the first of what would be three surgeries on his back. He played in 2015 despite taking off two months with chipping problems, and he tied for 17th.
He missed the cut in the other three majors that year, had two more back surgeries and missed 15 months of competition to let it heal. But after an upbeat return in the Bahamas at his unofficial Hero World Challenge, Woods curiously signed up for four tournaments in a five-week stretch, including going to Dubai.
He missed the cut at Torrey Pines, a place where he has won eight times as a pro. And after a 77 in easy conditions at Dubai in early February, he withdrew the next day, citing back spasms. Woods also cited back spasms for withdrawing from his own tournament at Riviera — he even withdrew from a press conference at the Genesis Open, which supports his foundation — and from the Honda Classic.
Woods also missed the Arnold Palmer Invitational. And now the wait continues for Woods, once golf’s dominant force, now its biggest mystery.
“I think injury has a lot to do with it, but the injury is not just his body, but his mind,” Jack Nicklaus said in an interview last month.
“Mentally, I think he’s had a hard time with what’s happened, because every time he turns around, he hurts himself,” Nicklaus said. “And instead he’s saying, `When am I going to get over this?’ He may physically be hurt. You guys don’t know. I don’t know. I really don’t have an answer. I just know that the guy looks great, talks great, mentally he sounds sharp. So what’s happening?”
Woods said there was no timetable for a return to competition.
“But I will continue my diligent effort to recover, and want to get back out there as soon as possible,” he said.
Woods has signed endorsement deals over the last four months with Monster Energy (on his golf bag), and equipment deals to play with TaylorMade clubs and Bridgestone golf balls. He still has an apparel contract with Nike.
Woods said he was particularly disappointed because this is the 20-year anniversary of his first victory at the Masters, a record-shattering, game-changing, 12-shot victory at age 21.
He was in New York last week to promote a book he wrote about the 1997 Masters.
Woods won the Masters four times, most recently in 2005 in a playoff over Chris DiMarco. The Masters remains the only major where he has never missed the cut as a pro.
The 93 players who have qualified and are in the field for the 81st Masters on April 6-9. Players listed only in the first category for which they are eligible. The winner of the Shell Houston Open, if not already eligible, also qualifies:
MASTERS CHAMPIONS: Danny Willett, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Phil Mickelson, Angel Cabrera, Trevor Immelman, Zach Johnson, Mike Weir, Vijay Singh, Jose Maria Olazabal, Mark O’Meara, Bernhard Langer, Fred Couples, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Larry Mize.
U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONS (five years): Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson.
BRITISH OPEN CHAMPIONS (five years): Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els.
PGA CHAMPIONS (five years): Jimmy Walker, Jason Day, Jason Dufner.
PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS (three years): Rickie Fowler.
U.S. AMATEUR CHAMPION AND RUNNER-UP: a-Curtis Luck, a-Brad Dalke.
BRITISH AMATEUR CHAMPION: a-Scott Gregory.
LATIN AMERICA AMATEUR CHAMPION: a-Toto Gana.
U.S. MID-AMATEUR CHAMPION: a-Stewart Hagestad.
TOP 12 AND TIES-2016 MASTERS: Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, J.B. Holmes, Matt Fitzpatrick, Soren Kjeldsen, Hideki Matsuyama, Daniel Berger, Brandt Snedeker.
TOP FOUR AND TIES-2016 U.S. OPEN: Jim Furyk, Scott Piercy, Shane Lowry.
TOP FOUR AND TIES-2016 BRITISH OPEN: Steve Stricker.
TOP FOUR AND TIES-2016 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP: Daniel Summerhays, Branden Grace, Brooks Koepka.
PGA TOUR EVENT WINNERS SINCE 2016 MASTERS (FULL FEDEX CUP POINTS AWARDED): Charley Hoffman, Brian Stuard, James Hahn, Sergio Garcia, William McGirt, Billy Hurley III, Jhonattan Vegas, Russell Knox, Ryan Moore, Si Woo Kim, Patrick Reed, Brendan Steele, Justin Thomas, Rod Pampling, Pat Perez, Mackenzie Hughes, Hudson Swafford, Jon Rahm, Adam Hadwin, Marc Leishman.
FIELD FROM THE 2016 TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP: Emiliano Grillo, Kevin Chappell, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, Gary Woodland, Roberto Castro, Kevin Na, Sean O’Hair.
TOP 50 FROM FINAL WORLD RANKING IN 2016: Alex Noren, Tyrrell Hatton, Louis Oosthuizen, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Francesco Molinari, Yuta Ikeda, Chris Wood, Bernd Wiesberger, Bill Haas, Andy Sullivan, Byeong Hun An, Thomas Pieters.
TOP 50 FROM WORLD RANKING ON MARCH 26: Tommy Fleetwood, Jeunghun Wang, Hideto Tanihara, Ross Fisher.