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Tiger Woods' comeback hopes took another detour due to chronic back problems, jeopardizing his return to competitive golf much less the winner's circle.
The 14-time major champion announced Thursday on his website he underwent his fourth back surgery, this time to alleviate ongoing pain in his leg and back.
Woods, 41, now faces a six-month recovery. If he were to return then, he will have played just one PGA Tour sanctioned event in more than two years.
Woods last competed Feb. 2, shooting a 77 during the first round of the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic. He withdrew the next day citing back spasms.
Woods missed the cut a week earlier at Torrey Pines, site of eight of his 79 wins on Tour. The tournament was his first on Tour since August of 2015.
Even so, Woods said he is "optimistic" the latest procedure will allow him to return to the course.
"When healed, I look forward to getting back to a normal life, playing with my kids, competing in professional golf and living without the pain I have been battling so long," he said.
On Tuesday, Woods actually hit two practice shots in Missouri, where he announced a course design. Afterward, he said his back was "progressing."
Now, Woods faces another long recovery from yet another surgical procedure.
This is Woods' fourth surgery on his back since March 2014.
This operation was performed by Dr. Richard Guyer of the Center for Disc Replacement at the Texas Back Institute.
"After he recovers from surgery, he will gradually begin his rehabilitation until he is completely healed," Guyer said. "Once that's accomplished, his workouts will be geared to allowing him to return to competitive golf."
Woods' Web site said the procedure was a minimally invasive Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (MIS ALIF) at L5/S1.
Woods will rest several weeks before beginning rehabilitation.
"I would like to thank all the fans for staying in touch and their kind wishes," Woods said. "The support I have received has never waned, and it really helps."