In a statement released on his website, the 14-time major champion said he had undergone "successful" surgery to relieve pain in his lower back and legs.

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

“Conservative therapy, which included rehabilitation, medications, limiting activities and injections, failed as a permanent solution, and Woods opted to have surgery. The procedure was a minimally invasive Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (MIS ALIF) at L5/S1.

“The surgery entailed removing the damaged disc and re-elevating the collapsed disc space to normal levels. This allows the one vertebrae to heal to the other. The goal is to relieve the pressure on the nerve and to give the nerve the best chance of healing.

"The surgery went well, and I'm optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain," Woods said. "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."

The surgery was performed by Dr. Richard Guyer of the Centre for Disc Replacement at the Texas Back Institute.

"After he recovers from surgery, he will gradually begin his rehabilitation until he is completely healed," Guyer said. "Once that's accomplished, his workouts will be geared to allowing him to return to competitive golf.

RIGHT: Tiger Woods during his last competitive round at the Dubai Desert Classic. PHOTO: Getty Images. 

"If you are going to have single-level fusion, the bottom level is the best place for it to occur. Some individuals are born with one less vertebrae, which would be similar to someone who had a single-level fusion.”

This latest operation was Woods' fourth back surgery since April 2014. His previous surgeries included two micro-discectomies and a "clean-up" procedure in late 2014.

The 40-year-old last played competitively at the Dubai Desert Classic in February, where he was forced to withdraw after the opening round because of back spasms.

Earlier this week, Woods made a brief appearance at the announcement of a new course design where he hit two balls and told the assembled media his “back was progressing”.

"I have good days and bad days. I've had three back operations, and that's the nature of the business,” Woods said. He made no mention of any upcoming operation.

Tiger will now rest for several weeks, then begin therapy and treatment. While each procedure and case is unique, patients typically return to full activity in about six months.

"I would like to thank all the fans for staying in touch and their kind wishes," Woods said. "The support I have received has never waned, and it really helps."