Woods’ season on hold after back surgery for fifth time

California (Agencies): Rory McIlroy expects Tiger Woods to be fit for the Masters in April after having back surgery for the fifth time. Woods, winner of 15 majors, last played at the PNC Championship in December, where he felt “discomfort” in his back.

A statement said Woods, 45, has had a “procedure to remove a pressurised disc fragment that was pinching his nerve” and doctors said it was successful.

“I’ve known for a while. He had it on 23 December. In his words it was a small procedure,” said McIlroy.

“Obviously any time you are being cut into you try to avoid that as much as you can, but he was back on his feet the next day so I don’t think we can read too much into it.

“I think they were just trying to clean a couple of little bits up. Obviously he won’t be playing for the next couple of months but he should be back for the Masters, if not before that, so I think he’ll be just fine.” Woods will miss a number of PGA Tour events, including the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines from 28-31 January.

He will also miss The Genesis Invitational from 18-21 February but he will still fulfil his role as tournament host at the event which benefits his charitable foundation. “I look forward to begin training and am focused on getting back out on Tour,” he said. Woods won his fifth Masters title in 2019, more than a decade after his previous victory in a major. He then won the Zozo Championship to equal Sam Snead’s record of 82 wins on the PGA Tour.

He has been plagued by back injuries in recent years and played just one PGA Tour event between August 2015 and December 2017 He had spinal-fusion surgery in 2017 and went on to play 18 PGA Tour events in 2018. Woods ended 2019 sixth in golf’s world rankings but is now 44th.