Tiger Woods has announced he has undergone successful back surgery – and is planning a return to competitive golf.
The 41-year-old released a statement on Thursday confirming he had an operation to alleviate "ongoing pain in his back and leg".
The 14-time major winner announced on his official website: "The surgery went well, and I'm optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain.
"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."
Woods is a golfing great, having won 14 Majors to leave him second on the all-time roll of honour behind only Jack Nicklaus
But the former world number one hasn’t won one of the sport’s four premier prizes since the US Open in 2008 and since then he has been plagued by personal and injury problems.
Due to previous herniations and three operations, Woods' bottom lower-back disc severely narrowed, causing sciatica and back and leg pain, according to the statement.
The statement also 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.