Tiger and the Masters

Tiger Woods said he is "trying every day to get back and play'' the Masters in two weeks despite back issues that forced him out of his last tournament in February.

Speaking publicly Monday for the first time since withdrawing from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Feb. 3, Woods told Michael Strahan on "Good Morning America," when asked if he will play in the first major of the year: "I hope so. I'm trying. I'm trying every day to get back and play.

"I love that event. It's meant so much to me in my life. It's the first major I ever played back in '95. It has so much history and meaning to me that I'd love to get back.''

Woods was in New York to promote his new book, "The 1997 Masters: My Story.''

Woods won the first of 14 major championships 20 years ago at Augusta National by a record 12 shots at age 21.

Now 41, Woods has spent much of the past three years trying to overcome back problems that have resulted in three surgeries.

A winner of 79 PGA Tour events, including five in 2013, Woods had his first surgery three years ago, forcing him to miss the Masters in 2014 for the first time. If he is unable to play when the tournament begins April 6, Woods would miss the Masters for the third time in four years.

Woods did say in an interview with USA Today that he will attend the Masters Champions Dinner on April 4, whether he can play in the event or not.

Since withdrawing from the event in Dubai, where he shot a first-round 77, Woods has also pulled out of three events he expected to play: the Genesis Open, the Honda Classic and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

"The mind is sharp; I just need to get the body willing to do it,'' he said. "That's the hard part. Getting the prep time. I haven't been able to get much prep time in. Train like I used to. Practice like I used to. So it's been hard.''

Woods told USA Today that he has been practicing but not playing rounds of golf.

"It's building, but I still have a little ways to go," he said.

Woods has not appeared publicly since the Dubai withdrawal. He attended no activities at the Genesis Open, where his foundation is the beneficiary.

On Saturday, Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, issued a statement to the Golf Channel in which he refuted a report which said the golfer was unlikely to play the Masters.

"We're not in a situation to even talk about playing in the Masters right now,'' Steinberg said in the statement. "He's gotten treatments and is progressing and hoping he can do it. There's not been a decision one way or the other. I couldn't give you a fair assessment, but to say it's doubtful is an absolutely inaccurate statement.''

Woods is currently 100-1 to win the Masters at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

As a past champion of the Masters, Woods is invited to participate for life. There is no commitment deadline as there would be on the PGA Tour, so he could simply show up, register and play.

Woods acknowledges that he has an advantage with his knowledge of Augusta National. He has played the tournament 20 times, 18 as a pro, and has 78 official rounds in tournament play. The last came in 2015 when he tied for 17th.

"Because I know how to prepare for it, and I know the golf course, I know where to miss it, I know where to play from, I know where the advantages are," he said, according to USA Today. "It's almost like cramming for a final. I know the golf course, I know the subject, I know the material. Now I just need to go out there and do it. That makes a big difference, whether or not I would come back and play a U.S. Open or a British Open or a PGA. It's so much easier coming back for this particular event because I know the golf course." http://www.espn.com/espn/print?id=18958430&type=HeadlineNews&imagesPrint...