World no. 1 Tiger Woods has pulled out of the Masters after undergoing back surgery earlier this week.
Woods has been victorious on four occasions in Augusta having last won the green jacket in 2005 but he has been forced to withdraw from the first Major of the season for the first time since making his debut in 1995.
His quest to overtake Jack Nicklaus's long standing record of 18 career Majors will be put on hold as he undergoes rehabilitation after the procedure on a nerve in his back.
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," a statement in Woods' website said.
"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."
The 38-year-old pulled out of the Honda Classic earlier this year after suffering from back spasms and was unable to defend his Arnold Palmer Invitational title last month due to the ongoing problem.
Although there is no set return date in mind, Woods is hopeful of a comeback during the summer months.
"The goal is for Tiger to resume playing sometime this summer. The repetitive motion from golf can cause this injury, and Woods could have sustained further damage if he had continued to play. There should be no long-lasting effects from the surgery, and it should not impact the longevity of his career."
Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson can overtake Woods as world No 1 with victory at the Masters.