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Frustrated Woods says 'too soon' to make call on Masters

Reuters
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Mar 9, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Tiger Woods tees off from the 4th hole during the final round of the WGC …

(Reuters) - Tiger Woods is still no closer to knowing whether he will be able to play in next month's Masters as he struggles with back pain.

The world number one withdrew from last week's Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida because of his aching back and remains unsure if he will be fit for this year's first major, starting April 10 at Augusta National.

"For Augusta, it's actually a little too soon to be honest with you," he told reporters on Monday at a sponsorship announcement for the AT&T National.

Woods has been plagued by back problems since last year but his condition worsened over the past month.

The 38-year-old American failed to finish the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens earlier this month, quitting after 13 holes in his final round.

Then he tweaked his back again on the last day at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami a week later, tumbling out of contention with a final-round 78 to finish tied for 25th.

He then pulled out of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a tournament he has won eight times, including 2012 and 2013, in the hope that he could play at the Masters but is no closer to knowing whether he will make it to the first tee.

"That's kind of the frustrating thing about this," he said. "I've had a couple weeks off getting treatment, just working on trying to get ready for Augusta. As of right now, it's still too soon. As I said, it's very frustrating."

Although Woods has missed two British Opens, one U.S. Open and one PGA Championship since 2008, he has never missed the Masters since he made his debut at Augusta National as an amateur in 1995.

He has won the tournament four times, in 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2005, but has not won any major since 2008.

(Reporting by Julian Linden in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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