Woods to miss Masters after successful surgery

By Ryan LavnerApril 1, 2014, 3:53 pm

Tiger Woods is a no-go for Augusta.

The world No. 1 announced on his website Tuesday that he underwent surgery for a pinched nerve in his back and will miss the Masters for the first time since 1994. The procedure was performed Monday in Utah. 

“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,” Woods said in a 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.

“I’d also like to thank the fans for their support and concern. It’s very kind and greatly appreciated. This is frustrating, but it’s something my doctors advised me to do for my immediate and long-term health.” 

Woods will begin intensive rehabilitation and soft-tissue treatment within a week, and he could begin hitting balls later this month. His goal was to resume playing on the PGA Tour “sometime this summer,” though he did not specify when.

“It’s tough right now,” he said, “but I’m absolutely optimistic about the future.”



Prior to this announcement, the Masters was the only major that he had never missed a pro.

Said Augusta National chairman Billy Payne, “Tiger was gracious in keeping us updated of his condition and making us aware of his decision. We wholeheartedly offered our best wishes for his immediate and long-term recovery. Tiger will be in our thoughts and will be missed by our patrons and all of us at the Masters Tournament next week. He is one of our most decorated champions and we look forward to his healthy return in 2015 and beyond.”

Woods first showed signs of back pain at the 2012 Barclays, and he grabbed his back after a few swings at last year’s PGA Championship.

Two weeks later, he hit a shot in the final round of the Barclays and dropped to his knees in pain. He was able to play the next three FedEx Cup events, then the Turkish Airlines Open and his own World Challenge to close out the year. This season, however, he is off to the worst start of his career, finishing no better than T-25 (with one WD) in four worldwide starts. 

Woods withdrew during the final round of the Honda Classic, citing back spasms. He played the following week at Doral, and was in contention after three days, but he reinjured his back during the final round, closed with 78 – the highest final-round score of his career – and tied for 25th.

When asked at Doral if the issue was more serious than back spasms, Woods replied, “Well, it is back spasms, so we’ve done all the protocols and it’s just a matter of keeping everything aligned so it doesn’t go into that.”

Woods then opted to sit out the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a tournament he has won eight times, in favor of more treatment. Last week, when announcing a new title sponsor for his Washington, D.C.-area tournament, Woods said that it was “too soon” to know about his Masters status and that the process had been “very frustrating.”  

Woods has now missed five of the past 23 majors dating to summer 2008, when he was recovering from reconstructive knee surgery. He also missed the U.S. Open and British Open in 2011 after sustaining injuries to his left knee and Achilles’ tendon while playing a shot from under a tree at Augusta.

“Of course, we’re disappointed to hear that Tiger will be out of competition for a few months and will miss several big tournaments, but I’m sure no one is more disappointed than Tiger,” PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement. “I was pleased to hear that Tiger’s procedure to alleviate a pinched nerve was successful and that the long-term prognosis for his recovery is positive.”

Woods, a four-time Masters winner, hasn’t won the year’s first major since 2005. Since then, he has finished no worse than sixth in seven of his last eight appearances. 

Before his injury woes, Woods was eagerly anticipating this year’s foursome of major venues. He has finished in the top 3 in each of his two U.S. Open appearances at Pinehurst; he won the Open the last time it was held at Royal Liverpool, in 2006; and he won the 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla.

Now, though, the rest of his season is in doubt.   

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Minjee Lee co-leads Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 12:25 am

ROGERS, Ark. - Minjee Lee wasn't all that concerned when she missed her first cut of the year this month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

The ninth-ranked Australian has certainly looked at ease and back in form at Pinnacle Country Club in her first event since then.

Lee and Japan's Nasa Hataoka each shot 6-under 65 on Saturday to share the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship 13-under 129. Lee is chasing her fifth victory since turning pro three years ago. It's also an opportunity to put any lingering frustration over that missed cut two weeks ago behind her for good.

''I didn't particularly hit it bad, even though I missed the cut at ShopRite, I just didn't really hole any putts,'' Lee said. ''I'd been hitting it pretty solid going into that tournament and even into this tournament, too. Just to see a couple putts roll in has been nice.''

The 22-year-old Lee needed only 24 putts during her opening 64 on Friday, helping her to match the low round of her career. Despite needing 28 putts Saturday, she still briefly took the outright lead after reaching as low as 14 under after a birdie on the par-5 seventh.


Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


Lee missed the green on the par-4 ninth soon thereafter to lead to her only bogey of the day and a tie with the 19-year-old Hataoka, who is in pursuit of her first career win.

Hataoka birdied six of eight holes midway through her bogey-free round on Saturday. It was yet another stellar performance from the Japanese teenager, who has finished in the top 10 in four of her last five tournaments and will be a part of Sunday's final pairing.

''I try to make birdies and try to be under par, that's really the key for me to get a top ten,'' Hataoka said. ''Golf is just trying to be in the top 10 every single week, so that's the key.''

Third-ranked Lexi Thompson matched the low round of the day with a 64 to get to 11 under. She hit 17 of 18 fairways and shot a 5-under 30 on her opening nine, The American is in search of her first win since September in the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Ariya Jutanugarn and Celine Boutier were 10 under.

First-round leader Gaby Lopez followed her opening 63 with a 75 to drop to 4 under. Fellow former Arkansas star Stacy Lewis also was 4 under after a 72.

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Henley will try to put heat on Casey in final round

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:55 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While it will be a tall task for anyone to catch Paul Casey at the Travelers Championship, the man who will start the round most within reach of the Englishman is Russell Henley.

Henley was in the penultimate group at TPC River Highlands on Saturday, but he’ll now anchor things during the final round as he looks to overcome a four-shot deficit behind Casey. After a 3-under 67, Henley sits at 12 under through 54 holes and one shot clear of the three players tied for third.

Henley closed his third round with a run of five straight pars, then became the beneficiary of a pair of late bogeys from Brian Harman that left Henley alone in second place.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Could have made a couple more putts, but to end with two up-and-downs like that was nice,” Henley said. “I felt a little bit weird over the shots coming in, put me in some bad spots. But it was nice to have the short game to back me up.”

Henley has won three times on Tour, most recently at the 2017 Houston Open, and he cracked the top 25 at both the Masters and U.S. Open. But with Casey riding a wave of confidence and coming off an 8-under 62 that marked the best round of the week, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him in order to nab trophy No. 4.

“I think I can shoot a low number on this course. You’ve got to make the putts,” Henley said. “I’m definitely hitting it well enough, and if I can get a couple putts to fall, that would be good. But I can’t control what he’s doing. I can just try to keep playing solid.”

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Back from back injury, Casey eyeing another win

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:36 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Given his four-shot cushion at the Travelers Championship and his recent victory at the Valspar Championship, it’s easy to forget that Paul Casey hit the disabled list in between.

Casey had to withdraw from The Players Championship because of a bad back, becoming the only player in the top 50 in the world rankings to miss the PGA Tour’s flagship event. He flew back to England to get treatment, and Casey admitted that his T-20 finish at last month’s BMW PGA Championship came while he was still on the mend.

“I wasn’t 100 percent fit with the back injury, which was L-4, L-5, S-1 (vertebrae) all out of place,” Casey said. “Big inflammation, nerve pain down the leg and up the back. I didn’t know what was going on.”


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Thanks in large part to a combination of MRIs, back adjustments and anti-inflammatories, Casey finally turned the corner. His T-16 finish at last week’s U.S. Open was the first event for which he felt fully healthy since before the Players, and he’s on the cusp of a second title since March after successfully battling through the injury.

“We thought we were fixing it, but we weren’t. We were kind of hitting the effects rather than the cause,” Casey said. “Eventually we figured out the cause, which was structural.”

Casey started the third round at TPC River Highlands two shots off the lead, but he’s now four clear of Russell Henley after firing an 8-under 62 that marked the low round of the week.

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Bubba thinks he'll need a Sunday 60 to scare Casey

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 11:15 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Perhaps moreso than at most PGA Tour venues, a low score is never really out of reach at TPC River Highlands. Positioned as a welcome change of pace after the U.S. Open, the Travelers Championship offers a lush layout that often pushes the balance much closer to reward than risk.

This is where Jim Furyk shot a 58 on the par-70 layout two years ago – and he didn’t even win that week. So even though Paul Casey enters the final round with a commanding four-shot lead, there’s still plenty of hope for the chase pack that something special could be in store.

Count Bubba Watson among the group who still believe the title is up for grabs – even if it might require a Herculean effort, even by his standards.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Watson has won the Travelers twice, including in a 2015 playoff over Casey. But starting the final round in a large tie for sixth at 10 under, six shots behind Casey, he estimates that he’ll need to flirt with golf’s magic number to give the Englishman something to worry about.

“My 7 under yesterday, I need to do better than that. I’m going to have to get to like 10 [under],” Watson said. “The only beauty is, getting out in front, you have a chance to put a number up and maybe scare them. But to scare them, you’re going to have to shoot 10 under at worst, where I’m at anyway.”

Watson started the third round three shots off the lead, and he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 1 and 2 en route to an outward 32. The southpaw couldn’t sustain that momentum, as bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 turned a potential 65 into a relatively disappointing 67.

“Bad decision on the par-3, and then a very tough tee shot for me on 17, and it just creeped into the bunker,” Watson said. “Just, that’s golf. You have mistakes every once in a while.”