The golf swing, when done well, is a thing of beauty. For PGA Tour players and power hitters like Tiger Woods, muscle memory is crucial in replicating the precision of a swing on a repeated basis. Whenever a single element is not in sync, it can lead to bad things, including an errant shot or, worse, injury.
Tiger Woods knows a thing or two about injuries as he has endured numerous back issues and the accompanying pain for years. However, he’s never publicly detailed the severity of those injuries and the pain he experienced. Until now. In a new commercial video, Woods revisits those darkest days and reveals a time when he had decided he would never play the game of golf ever again.
Tigers Woods and his back injuries
Since turning professional in 1996, Tiger Woods has won 82 times on the PGA Tour and 15 major titles. Amazingly, it could have been more had his career not been riddled with injuries. He’s suffered from problems with his knees, Achilles tendon, neck, and his back.
While Woods first encountered neck and back issues in 2010, the first time it became evident publicly was in 2013 at the Barclays. That’s when Woods dramatically dropped to his knees in considerable pain following a shot in the final round. He later said it was due to back spasms.
In 2014, Tiger Woods underwent his first back surgery in March and missed the first Masters of his career. He returned to action in August but didn’t last long. He withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in the final round due to spasms. He underwent three more back surgeries through 2017.
Tiger Woods gives up on playing golf again
Since that first surgery in 2014, the health of Tiger Woods was always the story, not his golf game. He only played in one tournament from August 2015 through January 2018. The public never knew the severity of his injuries or the pain he endured, but his absence for such a substantial amount of time indicated it was serious.
In a recent interview as part of a commercial for Centinel Spine, Woods was candid about his experience and revealed the pain was so great at one point he had resigned himself to no longer playing the game that had given him everything.
“I had come to the realization that I would never play competitive golf again. I would never play golf again. And I came to accept that, and that was okay for me. I’ve had a great career. It was done.”
Tiger Woods said his ultimate goal was to have a normal life and play with his kids again because when he hit bottom, that was not even an option. “They would set up Legos and play around the chair because they knew that daddy couldn’t get out of it, he couldn’t move. So they tried to help and feel like they were playing with me. But I couldn’t twist. I couldn’t get down there.
“They would go off to bed, and I would be in that chair. They would wake up in the morning, there’s daddy again. They’d be off to school and come home from school, and there’s daddy in the chair again. I just didn’t move.”
Woods miraculously returns to top
Ultimately, Tiger Woods decided there were no other options but spinal fusion surgery. He had the surgery in April 2017.
Days after his surgery, Woods’ life returned to normal. There was no more pain like you’ve hit your funny bone shooting down his leg 1,000 times a day. Then, in April 2019, almost two years to the day of his surgery, Woods did the improbable. He won his fifth green jacket at Augusta. That single accomplishment stunned those in the medical community.
“It’s almost miraculous,” Jack Zigler, president of the International Society for the Advancement of Spinal Surgery, told the Washington Post. “On the one hand, you have somebody who’s in great physical condition and extremely well motivated — it’s the ideal patient. But on the other hand, he’s going back to an unbelievable level of function. The likelihood you could ever get back there is small.”
Tiger Woods attained a level of success, no one, himself included, ever thought possible. That’s not to say there haven’t been struggles. There have been. However, with a completely new perspective, Woods doesn’t obsess about winning as he did in the past.
“Everything that I’ve been able to accomplish since my spinal fusion surgery has been icing on the cake.”
A cake that he can now enjoy while celebrating those successes with his kids. Something that was all but impossible in the not-so-distant past.