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With Ailing Back, Woods Still Unsure for Masters

Tiger Woods, center, putts during a putting challenge at the Newseum in Washington, Monday, March 24, 2014. Woods and Quicken Loans Chief Executive Officer Bill Emerson, left, participated in the putting challenge to have the mortgage payments paid for three military families for one month. Earlier, Woods and Emerson announced that Quicken Loans had signed a multi-year agreement to become the title sponsor of the Quicken Loans National to be played at Congressional in Bethesda, Md., in June. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Tiger Woods, center, putts during a putting challenge at the Newseum in Washington, Monday, March 24, 2014. Woods and Quicken Loans Chief Executive Officer Bill Emerson, left, participated in the putting challenge to have the mortgage payments paid for three military families for one month. Earlier, Woods and Emerson announced that Quicken Loans had signed a multi-year agreement to become the title sponsor of the Quicken Loans National to be played at Congressional in Bethesda, Md., in June. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Washington — Tiger Woods said Monday at an appearance in Washington that it is too early to tell whether his balky back will allow him to play in the Masters next month, an uncertainty that could delay his attempt to end a drought without a major title that is approaching six years.

“For Augusta, it’s actually still a little too soon, to be honest with you,” Woods said during a news conference following the announcement of Quicken Loans as a new sponsor for his PGA Tour event, currently held at Congressional Country Club. “That’s kind of the frustrating thing about this. I’ve had a couple of weeks off, and getting treatment, and just working on trying to get ready for Augusta.

“As of right now, it’s still too soon, which is as I said very frustrating.”

Woods’ last tournament concluded March 9 at Doral, where the wear on his back was apparent during a final-round 78 that left him tied for 25th. He has played just four tournaments this year, withdrawing during the final round of the Honda Classic March 2, and was unable to play in the Arnold Palmer Invitational this past week in Orlando.

During an interview after the event — in which officials from the Tiger Woods Foundation and the PGA Tour announced that Quicken Loans would replace AT&T as the title sponsor of what is now the Quicken Loans National — Woods said he has not been able to hit balls as he allows his back to heal.

“I’ve been chipping and putting at home,” Woods said. “That’s it. I haven’t done that much. Just listening to my doctors, listening to my therapists.”

Woods said he could play in and contend at the Masters without normal preparation, citing the 2008 U.S. Open — his last major title — as an example. That year, he had knee surgery following the Masters, and played nine holes for the first time on the Sunday before the first round of the Open. In that truncated practice round, he said he lost seven balls.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh, I don’t know how I’m actually going to pull this off,’ ” Woods said. “So I’ve done it before. Hopefully, that’ll be the case again this year.”

Woods also used the event, held at the Newseum, to reiterate his hope that Congressional’s membership approve a deal to host the Quicken Loans National in 2016, ’18 and ’20. Votes are due Monday.

“We want Congressional,” Woods said in the interview. “Obviously, it is one of the most iconic sites, one of the most iconic golf courses we play. To have a major championship venue like that, to be able to play that on the even-numbered years — even if it’s every other year, which we’re waiting for that vote — we’d like to do that. We want to stay in the region. We want to stay here.”