(Reuters) - Three-times champion Tiger Woods has ruled himself out of next month’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst in North Carolina as he recovers from back surgery, the second successive major championship he will miss this year.
The former world number one has been sidelined from competitive golf since late March after requiring treatment for a pinched nerve in his back that had troubled him for months, and was unable to compete at the Masters in April.
“Unfortunately, I won’t be there because I‘m not yet physically able to play competitive golf,” Woods said in a statement on his website on Wednesday, referring to the June 12-15 U.S. Open.
“The U.S. Open is very important to me, and I know it’s going to be a great week. Despite missing the first two majors (this year), and several other important tournaments, I remain very optimistic about this year and my future.”
This will be the sixth major championship missed by Woods due to injury, and he remains stuck on his career tally of 14 wins, having not clinched one of golf’s blue riband events since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
Woods has not set a timetable for his likely return and could possibly also miss the year’s third major, the July 17-20 British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England.
The 38-year-old American has been increasingly plagued by injuries in recent seasons as the wear and tear of years on the tour have begun to take a toll.
He failed to finish the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens in early March, quitting after 13 holes in his final round.
The American then tweaked his back again on the last day of the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami just one week later.
Woods pulled out of the Mar. 20-23 Arnold Palmer Invitational, a key lead-up tournament he has won eight times, in the hope that he could play at the Masters before he opted to undergo surgery on March 31.
He said he risked further injury had he kept playing because of the repetitive motion from golf but that there should be no long-lasting effects from the surgery.
”It’s just because the nature of injuries that I’ve had before in the past,“ Woods said earlier this year. ”I’ve had knees and Achilles (injuries) and I’ve been through that. And I could play through those.
“But this one, I just can’t do it. Back injuries are no joke. When people say they’ve felt debilitated when their back hurts, I understand what that feels like.”
Woods’ lengthy history of injury began with a troublesome left knee, first operated on when he was a freshman at Stanford University in 1994. Three more operations on that knee have followed.
He has also suffered injuries to his ankle and neck, his right and left Achilles tendons and fractures in his leg, which he defiantly played through on the way to victory at the 2008 U.S. Open after a 19-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate.
Woods has missed two British Opens, one U.S. Open, one Masters and one PGA Championship since 2008 because of injuries, and will now add to that number next month.
He is a three-time winner of the year’s second major, having triumphed at the U.S. Open in 2000, 2002 and 2008.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue