Tiger Woods: Masters too early for four-time champion's return

Tiger Woods
Woods won the last of his four Masters titles in 2005
The Masters, Augusta, 6-9 April
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Four-time champion Tiger Woods has confirmed he will not be fit for next week's Masters and has not put a timetable on his return.

The American, 41, winner of 14 majors, has not played since withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic on 3 February with ongoing back spasms.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of his first Masters win and he said: "I did about everything I could to play."

Woods also missed the 2014 and 2016 Masters tournaments because of injury.

He won the last of his 14 major titles at the US Open in June 2008 and has since had surgery on his knee and back.

After an absence of 17 months, he returned to the PGA Tour in January but missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open after rounds of 76 and 72 and was injured again after an opening round of 77 in Dubai the following week.

"My back rehabilitation didn't allow me the time to get tournament ready," Woods said in a statement on his website.

"I'm especially upset because it's a special anniversary for me that's filled with a lot of great memories.

"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."

Woods said he would still be at Augusta National's clubhouse on Tuesday for the annual Champions Dinner ahead of the year's opening major, which starts on Thursday.

Analysis

Iain Carter, BBC golf correspondent

"Woods has been struggling with back injuries for quite some time now. There was an awful lot of optimism that this would be the year he would make a successful comeback to competitive golf.

"But having played only three rounds before succumbing to yet more back problems, no surprise he has not managed to make it in time for what is always an arduous test at the Masters.

"It's always a blow for golf when Woods doesn't play because he remains the biggest calling card in the game but there are a crop of young players who are at the very top of the game who are really driving it forward.

"But it would have been a huge boost for the game if Tiger Woods had been back at Augusta - and competitive - at the first major of the year."

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