Billy Payne, the chair of Augusta National Golf Club who has in the past chastised Tiger Woods for his off-course behavior, Tuesday said the Masters will miss the four-time winner of the green jacket.
Sad to say I’m missing the Masters. Thanks to the fans for so many kind wishes. http://t.co/Ofbre9VHEL— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 1, 2014
"Tiger was gracious in keeping us updated of his condition and making us aware of his decision," Payne said in a statement, according to the Augusta Chronicle. "We wholeheartedly offered our best wishes for his immediate and long-term recovery."
With Masters Week kicking off on Monday, Payne will have to make do with such notables as defending champion Adam Scott, 2012 titleholder Bubba Watson, and two-time majors winner Rory McIlroy to carry the load at Augusta. The grand poobah just hoped that he would have the 14-time major champ (who will, barring event-canceling circumstances befalling the two closest challengers, Scott and Henrik Stenson, lose his No. 1 world ranking after the men’s first major of the season comes to a close) stalking the fairways next year.
"Tiger will be in our thoughts and will be missed by our patrons and all of us at the Masters Tournament next week," said Payne. "He is one of our most decorated champions and we look forward to his healthy return in 2015 and beyond."
Twitter, as one may imagine, blew up in the wake of Woods’ announcement.
Sadly Tiger has to WD from the @The_Masters due to back surgery. Out 3-6 months. This is as career threatening an injury as his knee.— Paul Azinger (@PaulAzinger) April 1, 2014
Other former players also weighed in on Tiger’s condition, with at least one hoping the news was a seasonal prank.
Aww no, say it isn't so @TigerWoods and just an April Fools Day joke?— Gary Player (@garyplayer) April 1, 2014
Golf Channel analyst Aaron Oberholser noted that women’s world No. 2 Suzann Pettersen will miss this week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship with her own bad back.
It's an epidemic I tell ya. #suzannpettersen zero fun. Get better quick.— Arron Oberholser (@ArronOberholser) April 1, 2014
I believe there is such a thing as over training ones body for any endeavor. I'm a victim of it myself. I believe Tiger is too. #bummer— Arron Oberholser (@ArronOberholser) April 1, 2014