Tiger Woods has back surgery

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Tiger Woods will miss the Masters after undergoing back surgery earlier this week for a pinched nerve that has been hurting him for several months, the world's No. 1 player said Tuesday on his website.

It will be the first time in 20 years that Woods will not play in the event.

The microdiscectomy was performed Monday by neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Rich in Park City, Utah. The statement said Woods will begin "intensive rehabilitation and soft-tissue treatment" within a week, and the goal is for him to return to competition "sometime this summer."

"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," the 38-year-old Woods said in the statement.

"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."

It is not yet clear whether Woods will return in time for the U.S. Open (at Pinehurst No. 2 on June 12-15) or the Open Championship (at Royal Liverpool on July 17-20).

"It's tough right now, but I'm absolutely optimistic about the future," Woods said in the statement. "There are a couple [of] records by two outstanding individuals and players that I hope one day to break. As I've said many times, Sam [Snead] and Jack [Nicklaus] reached their milestones over an entire career. I plan to have a lot of years left in mine."

ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell said that "there is a very good return rate following this type of procedure."

"Dr. (Robert) Watkins, who is known for treating many athlete for spine conditions out in Los Angeles, actually published a study where they looked at 80 professional athletes, across all sports including golfers -- 90 percent (were) able to return to their prior level of sport."

Bell estimated that the average recovery time for surgery like Woods had is 4 1/2 months.

"Tiger was gracious in keeping us updated of his condition and making us aware of his decision," Masters chairman Billy Payne said in a statement. "We wholeheartedly offered our best wishes for his immediate and long-term recovery. ... He is one of our most decorated champions and we look forward to his healthy return in 2015 and beyond."

Woods has been suffering from back spasms that were an issue during competition last fall and resurfaced again last month at the Honda Classic, where he withdrew during the final round.

He played the following week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, where he acknowledged that his back bothered him during the tournament and especially during the final round, in which he shot 78 -- his highest final-round score as a pro.

On March 18, two days prior to the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Woods announced on his website that he would not play in that tournament, which he has won eight times, as his back problems had yet to subside.

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