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Home NO JOKE:

Anyone who has ever had back problems knows it isn’t a laughing matter. Count Tiger Woods in that group as he announced Tuesday (April Fools day) that he has undergone a successful microdiscectomy (surgical removal of herniated disc material that presses on a nerve root or the spinal cord) for a pinched nerve that has been hurting him for several months. The surgery was performed Monday in Park City, Utah, by neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Rich. The procedure was successful, but Woods will be unable to play in the Masters Tournament, instead requiring rest and rehabilitation for the next several weeks. Suffice is to say the Golf Channel is now scrambling to come up with ideas on how to fill its Masters week coverage.

"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 web site. "I'd like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters," he added. "It's a week that's very special to me. It also looks like I'll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy.

"I'd also like to thank the fans for their support and concern. It's very kind and greatly appreciated. This is frustrating, but it's something my doctors advised me to do for my immediate and long-term health."

Woods will begin intensive rehabilitation and soft-tissue treatment within a week. Healing and recovery times differ for each individual based on many physiological factors, but its conceivable that Woods could begin chipping and putting, after assessment by his doctors, in three weeks.

The goal is for him to resume playing sometime this summer. "It's tough right now, but I'm absolutely optimistic about the future," Woods said. "There are a couple [of] records by two outstanding individuals and players that I hope one day to break. As I've said many times, Sam and Jack reached their milestones over an entire career. I plan to have a lot of years left in mine."