20 Jan 2021 | Professional golf |
Tiger endures more back surgery
by Mark Hayes
A pinched nerve in Tiger Woods’ back has put his 2021 season on hold.
The 15-time major champion announced overnight that he’d had another microdiscectomy surgery to remove a pressurised disc fragment that had been pinching a nerve.
Woods said in a statement that his doctors had determined the operation to be a success and that he would make a full recovery.
He is expected to miss at least the next two months, but it has been reported that he’s hopeful of a return in time for the Masters on 8 April.
“I look forward to begin training and am focused on getting back out on tour,” he said.
It’s the fifth operation Woods, 45, has had on his back and the first since spinal fusion surgery in April 2017. He previously had microdiscectomy surgery three times in 2014-15.
Woods’ back has been an issue for the better part of the decade and he was able to play just once - a missed cut at the 2016 Farmers Insurance Open - between August 2015 and December 2017.
He suggested at the 2017 Presidents Cup, where a non-playing vice-captain, that his days as a competitive golfer might be over, but the fusion proved to be Woods’ lifeline back to competition.
He resumed play in late in 2017, then competed in 18 events in 2018, highlighted by a victory at the Tour Championship that August.
Seven months later, he went on to win his fifth Masters – his first major championship in nearly 11 years. It capped one of the more remarkable sport comeback stories and re-established Woods as a force.
He took the next month off to celebrate, but then struggled to find consistency upon his return. In August 2019, he had an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee - his fifth operation on that knee, according to GolfWorld - and missed three months, only to win his first event back at the Zozo Championship for his 82nd PGA Tour victory, tying Sam Snead for the record.
Woods then played inspired golf as playing captain at the Presidents Cup that December, going 3-0 and leading his American side to victory at Royal Melbourne.
But after posting a top-10 in his first start of 2020 at the Farmers, Woods struggled to practice and play at full strength.
He played just nine tour events, skipping tournaments to rest his back and did not post a finish better than T37 in his seven events after the Covid-19 enforced break.
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