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Woods to miss Masters, 'not physically ready'

By Ryan Lavner
Tiger Woods
Ryan Pierse | Getty Images

Tiger Woods will be at Augusta National next week – but not with his golf clubs.

Woods officially ruled himself out of the Masters on Friday night, ending weeks of social media gossip and rumors about whether he would make a surprise return at the year's first major.

Though he won't compete for a fifth green jacket, Woods said in a post on his website that he still plans to attend the Champions Dinner next Tuesday.

"I've been hitting balls and training daily," he said in the statement, "but I'm not physically ready. I've said all along that this time I need to be cautious and do what's best for my long-term health and career. Unfortunately, playing Augusta next week wouldn't be the right decision.

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"I'm absolutely making progress, and I'm really happy with how far I've come, but I still have no timetable to return to competitive golf."

Speculating about Woods' status for the Masters has become an annual tradition.

In 2014, he revealed less than two weeks before the tournament (also on April Fools' Day) that he'd undergone back surgery, and last year, after taking a two-month break to sort out his short-game issues, Woods waited until six days before the opening round to announce his intention to play. He eventually tied for 17th.

His return this year never seemed likely.

The 40-year-old hasn't played since the Wyndham Championship in August, which was a month before he underwent a second microdiscectomy and then another follow-up procedure to alleviate discomfort in his back. In his lone public appearance this year, at a news conference for one of his Tiger Woods Design projects in early March, Woods said that he was "progressing" but offered no definitive timetable for a return.

"After assessing the present condition of my back, and consulting with my medical team, I've decided it's prudent to miss this year's Masters," he said.

But after missing the Masters for the second time in three years, and with little information trickling out about his recovery, it's unclear when, or if, Woods will play this year.