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Woods still unsure on Masters

ESPN staff
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Tiger Woods is in danger of missing the Masters for the first time © Getty Images
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Tiger Woods admits it is still soon to call whether his back will heal in time to play the Masters.

Four-time Augusta winner Woods, 38, has never missed the Masters, but is struggling to be fully fit for the tournament's start on April 10 after it emerged last week he was suffering from a bulging disc.

"For Augusta, it's actually still a little too soon, to be honest with you," Woods said. "That's kind of the frustrating thing about this."

Woods is enduring the worst start of his 18 years on tour in a season where he has so far been plagued by back problems.

He withdrew in the final round at the Honda Classic on March 2 because of back spasms. His back flared up again in the final round of his defence at Doral, when he shot a 78 for the highest Sunday score of his PGA Tour career and his first closing round without a birdie.

Then last week, Woods pulled out of the Bay Hill Invitational due to persistent back pain.

"I've had a couple weeks off and getting treatment and just working on trying to get ready for Augusta," Woods said. "As of right now, it's still too soon, which is, as I said, pretty frustrating."

Meanwhile, Woods has been warned by Retief Goosen that he faces a "difficult road back" to full fitness.

Goosen considered retiring from the sport two years ago due to a similar condition. He told Golf Digest: "I knew when Tiger's back spasms came up that it was definitely structural.

"Your back doesn't spasm unless it's trying to protect something. There's nothing you can do with bulging discs to take that away... It's a difficult road back.

"It starts off with a bulging disc and eventually it leaks and then, in my case, starts chewing away at the bone around the area.

"I couldn't sleep, I'd wake up every time I turned over. I couldn't hit certain shots, I had constant physio to keep me loose, and then, after about eight holes, it would spasm again."

Two-time major winner Goosen decided to have an operation to insert a titanium replacement for a degenerated disc. He has recorded only one top-10 finish since returning from a stress fracture of a facet joint in September.

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