April 20, 2017 / 8:38 PM / 4 months ago

Tiger undergoes back surgery, could be out six months

Golfer Tiger Woods speaks as he sits down to sign copies of his new book "The 1997 Masters: My Story" at a book signing event at a Barnes & Noble store in New York City, New York, U.S., March 20, 2017.Mike Segar

(Reuters) - Former world number one Tiger Woods said on Thursday he has undergone further surgery to help alleviate pain in his back and leg and could be away from competitive golf for another six months.

Woods, who has not played a tournament since pulling out of a European Tour event in February because of back spasms, has now undergone surgery on his ailing back four times since early 2014.

"The surgery went well, and I'm optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain," Woods, 41, said in a statement on his website. "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."

According to the statement the 14-times major winner will rest for several weeks before beginning therapy and treatment and, while each procedure and case is unique, patients typically return to full activity in about six months.

Due to previous herniations and three operations, Woods' bottom lower-back disc severely narrowed, causing sciatica and severe back and leg pain, according to the statement.

The statement said that conservative therapy, which included rehabilitation, medication, limiting activity and injections, had failed as a permanent solution, and Woods opted to have surgery.

His latest operation was described as "minimally invasive" and entailed removing the damaged disc and re-elevating the collapsed disc space to normal levels.

Woods returned to the PGA Tour in January after a 17-month absence following back surgery. He missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and shot an opening-round 77 a week later in Dubai before withdrawing.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis

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