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For the first time in 20 years Tiger Woods will not be competing in the Masters Golf Tournament. The living legend recently underwent back surgery and after much speculation, withdrew himself from one of the biggest golf events of the year. It’s been no secret that Woods' success has dwindled over the years, and now, more and more analysts have started to wonder if they are witnessing the beginning of the end for a man that revolutionized golf as a sport.
Granted this was not a lighthearted decision for Tiger. In a heartfelt tweet Woods apologized to fans, who likely purchased tickets in advance specifically to see him.
Despite the initial reaction of the Twitterverse in believing it was an April Fool's Day prank, more statements rolled out confirming the fears of the golf community. Woods spoke at length in a prepared statement about his condition, which was picked up by ESPN.
"After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided, in consultation with my doctors, to have this procedure done...I'd like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters. It's a week that's very special to me. It also looks like I'll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy."
On Monday, Woods underwent a Microdiscectomy, and at the advisement of his Doctor, was instructed not to participate in the Masters in order to achieve a full recovery. Surgery is always scary for an athlete, especially someone like Tiger who still has many records he wishes to beat. Woods still needs to win 5 majors to beat Jack Nicklaus' career record, and 9 PGA tour titles to top Sam Snead's record. Luckily for Tiger, it appears that the outlook for his recovery is positive. A recent survey of 80 athletes who underwent the same surgery of Woods stated that 90% of them were able to resume play and return to their prior level of sport.
With a four and a half month recovery time, it is very likely Woods will not only miss The Masters, but also be unable to participate in the US Open in June. Ratings are expected to be lower with Tiger’s absence, but PGA officials are just wishing Woods well in his recovery.
At 38, even with a long history of injury, he should have another 15-20 years of high level golf left in him. That should offer plenty of time for him to achieve his records, even if he misses the occasional Masters along the way.