Injury prolongs Woods' record chase

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Tiger Woods had surgery for a pinched nerve in his back and will not play in this year's Masters.Why is it significant that Tiger Woods is not playing in the Masters for the first time as a pro?

Since last winning a major, in 2008, Woods has six top-five finishes in majors. Three have come at Augusta. So despite his drought, Woods has found his way into contention at a better rate there compared with the other three majors. And, depending on how many majors he will miss, history suggests his quest for the record for career wins in majors might be in serious jeopardy.

How does Woods' run of 18 majors played without a win compare to major droughts of other golf greats?

Jack Nicklaus went 20 majors between his win at age 40 in the 1980 PGA Championship and his remarkable win at age 46 in the 1986 Masters.

Nicklaus' second-longest span between major wins was 12 -- between the 1967 U.S. Open and 1970 Open Championship. Gary Player's longest span between major wins was 15. Tom Watson's was 11. Ben Hogan never had a stretch longer than four between major wins, and Arnold Palmer never had one longer than five.

Tiger Woods: Past 9 Majors Played

Since Woods' last major victory, in the 2008 U.S. Open, 19 golfers have won the 22 majors played. The three who have won multiple majors since the 2008 U.S. Open are Padraig Harrington, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson.

Of the 22 majors held since Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, he has competed in 18. Woods' absence next week will extend his drought to 23 majors.

Woods has played three events this season, and his play was not up to his usual standards.

He averaged 287.3 yards on his drives this season after averaging at least 293 yards in each of his other seasons as a professional (he turned pro in 1996).

Running out of time?

Most Majors Won-Age 38 and Older

The Masters was to be Woods' first major at age 38. With Woods four major titles shy of tying Nicklaus, it's worth noting that only two players have ever won four or more majors after their 38th birthdays.

If Woods is done for the major calendar this year, history says he won't catch Nicklaus, as nobody has won more than three majors after turning 39: Hogan, Nicklaus and Snead, all with three.