Tiger Woods withdraws from the U.S. Open due to back surgery
Tiger Woods officially announced he would miss the 2014 U.S. Open due to his March 31 surgery to repair a pinched nerve in his back, marking his second-consecutive skipped major.
"Unfortunately, I won't be there because I'm not yet physically able to play competitive golf," Woods said on TigerWoods.com. "I'd like to convey my regrets to the USGA leadership, the volunteers and the fans that I won't be at Pinehurst. The U.S. Open is very important to me, and I know it's going to be a great week.”
The U.S. Open is June 12-15 at Pinehurst No. 2, where Woods tied for third in 1999 and was runner-up in 2005. His withdrawal was expected. His friends Notah Begay and Suzann Pettersen had said Woods would not be ready for the U.S. Open, and in earlier statements Woods had said he expected to return to the game "sometime this summer." Still, Woods had not made a final decision on the Open until Wednesday. He also missed the Masters in April due to his surgery.
Woods last played on March 9 at Doral, where he closed with a 78 while suffering what he called back spasms. He withdrew in the middle of the final round at the Honda Classic with back pain a week earlier.
It will be the second U.S. Open, and sixth major, Woods has missed because of injury over the last six years. He missed the 2011 U.S. Open due to lingering issues with his left knee and Achilles tendon, and his caddie at the time, Steve Williams, took the opportunity to caddie for Adam Scott. Soon after, he left Woods’ bag permanently for Scott.
Woods is a three-time U.S. Open champion, one short of the record shared by Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Willie Anderson. His most recent U.S. Open victory was in 2008 at Torrey Pines, where he won in a playoff over Rocco Mediate a week before he had season-ending knee surgery.
That was his 14th victory in 46 majors, a winning rate of 30 percent as a pro. He has not won a major since Torrey Pines, leaving him four short of Nicklaus' record.
Woods missed the British Open and PGA Championship after knee surgery in 2008. He missed the U.S. Open and British Open while allowing leg injuries to heal in 2011. He missed the Masters for the first time in April because of the back surgery.
Nicklaus said earlier Wednesday that Woods' health would be the biggest obstacle in breaking his record in the majors. Woods called Nicklaus earlier Wednesday to express regrets about missing the Memorial, and Nicklaus said that Woods indicated he was making progress.
"If he's healthy, I think Tiger has got 10-plus years to play top quality tournament golf," Nicklaus said. "And I've said many times, he's got a little over 40 tournaments to play the major championships; he's only got to win five to pass my record. As good a player as he is, I don't think that should be a big deal. But then again, he's got to do it. Plus, he's also got to be healthy to be able to do it."
At a media event for his summer tournament -- the Quicken Loans National -- Woods said he had not hit any full shots since his surgery at the end of March and was going to leave the date of his return up to his doctors. In the release on his website, Woods sounded upbeat about his potential return this season.
“Despite missing the first two majors, and several other important tournaments, I remain very optimistic about this year and my future,” Woods said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.