Tiger Woods will not celebrate the 20th anniversary of his historic win in the 1997 Masters on the golf course.
Woods announced Friday he will not play in this year’s Masters because lingering back problems have stunted his ability to tackle Augusta National.
“Unfortunately, I won't be competing in this year's Masters,” Woods wrote on his website. “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. I can't believe it's been 20 years since I won my first green jacket.
“I have no timetable for my return, but I will continue my diligent effort to recover, and want to get back out there as soon as possible.”
It will be the third Masters in the last four years Woods will miss. The four-time winner of the green jacket tied for 17th in 2015. In 1997, he won the Masters by 12 shots and set 20 tournament records. It was the first of 14 major championships Woods has won; his last came in the 2008 U.S. Open.
Woods, 41, has not played since he withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic in February, where he shot an opening-round, birdie-free 77 and said he couldn’t continue because of back spasms. The week before, he missed the cut in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, where he shot 76-72 in the tournament he’s won a record eight times. He withdrew from the Genesis Open and the Honda Classic and couldn’t play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where he’s won a record eight times. His last of his 79 PGA Tour titles in the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
Woods has had three surgeries to his back, one in 2014 and two in the fall of 2015. He returned to competitive golf in the 2016 Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, where he tied for the most birdies made that week (24) but beat only two players in the elite 17-player field.
“I'd like to pass along my regrets to Billy Payne, the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons, that I won't be there,” Woods wrote. “I will be at the Champions Dinner and I look forward to seeing a lot of old friends. Augusta National has been a very important place to me and my family for over 20 years, and while I'm disappointed, it will be good to be back there Tuesday.”