This is no joke: for the first time since 1994, Tiger Woods will miss the Masters.
Woods revealed on his website that he had surgery on his back to relieve pain from a pinched nerve. The operation, called a microdiscectomy, was performed in Park City, 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 on his website.
The timeframe for his recovery is not definitive but it's believed Woods can start chipping and putting within three weeks. It's unknown if he'll be ready in time to play the U.S. Open, although he hopes to be back "sometime this summer."
The surgery is the same procedure that Graham DeLaet went through in January 2011. The Canadian missed most of the season while recovering, however Woods' ailment is believed to be less serious and the surgery less involved than DeLaet's.
Woods' back troubles flared up earlier this year causing him to withdraw from the Honda Classic as well as miss the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It meant another year in which the world's top-ranked player has been sidelined.
The last year Woods played an uninterrupted schedule was 2007.
Reached at the PGA Tour stop in Houston, Dr. Craig Davies, a Canadian chiropractor and movement and conditioning coach who works with more than a dozen pros including DeLaet, said that bad backs are common in golf due to the nature of the movement.
"The golf swing is not natural," he stated. "The human body was not created in a manner that would allow it to move that way."
Davies said that if a golfer's hips and thoracic spine don't rotate, then the lower back takes the brunt of the golf swing, causing problems such as Woods is experiencing.
Since DeLaet's surgery, Davies has developed a training program that is specifically designed to minimize the rotation through the lower back. DeLaet has been problem-free since he came back to the Tour in 2012.
"He's one of the best in the world," DeLaet said of Davies. "I'm glad he's on my team. He makes it easy for me because I see results."
For Woods, the surgery means more questions about not only his swing but his training methods, which have seen him bulk up considerably since he first came on tour.
It also puts more doubt on his ability to catch Jack Nicklaus and his record of 18 major victories.