sport

Nicklaus 'best wishes' for Woods

Jack Nicklaus has wished Tiger Woods a speedy recovery after the world number one announced he'll miss the Masters for the first time.

Woods said on Tuesday he had undergone successful microdiscectomy surgery on a pinched nerve after being advised to do so for his "immediate and long-term health."

But the 38-year-old stressed he was still intent on surpassing Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles when he returns to action. Woods won the last of his 14 majors in the 2008 US Open.

In a statement on his website, Nicklaus wrote: "I am sorry to hear that Tiger will miss the Masters Tournament. I know Tiger has been working very hard to return to form, and as I have said many times, Tiger has a lot of years of good golf ahead of him.

"I hate to see him robbed of some of that time by injury. But we all know he is doing what is in the best interests of his health and future. I wish him well on a speedy recovery."

Woods' former coach Butch Harmon believes resolving the long-standing back issue could actually benefit Woods in the long run.

Harmon told Sky Sports News: "It's going to be a slow rehab. Whether he's ready to play in the US Open (at Pinehurst from June 12-15) we will just have to wait and see, but I think in the long run if this makes him healthier then I think we will see a stronger and better Tiger Woods come back when he is able to play."

Billy Payne, chairman of Augusta National, said in a statement: "Tiger was gracious in keeping us updated of his condition and making us aware of his decision.

"We wholeheartedly offered our best wishes for his immediate and long-term recovery. Tiger will be in our thoughts and will be missed by our patrons and all of us at the Masters Tournament next week.

"He is one of our most decorated champions and we look forward to his healthy return in 2015 and beyond."

Three-time Masters champion Gary Player wrote on Twitter: "My best wishes @TigerWoods for a full & quick recovery to your back surgery. We will miss you in Augusta @The-Masters."