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Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Tiger Woods undergoes surgery to alleviate nerve pain in his lower back and will miss some time on the PGA Tour.

Woods announced Tuesday that he recently underwent his fifth back surgery since 2014. The microdiscectomy procedure was meant to “remove a pressurized disc fragment that was pinching his nerve” in his lower back. Woods didn’t give a timetable for his return to golf, but at 45 years old, a fifth back surgery isn’t exactly a good omen for the future.

Tiger Woods’ lengthy battle with his ailing back

Throughout his Hall-of-Fame golf career, Tiger Woods has gone up against some formidable foes on the PGA Tour, but he’s conquered nearly every one of them along the way. Well, except one — his own back.

In March of 2014, Woods underwent his first microdiscectomy procedure to alleviate a pinched nerve in his back. Just over a year later, Woods underwent back-to-back surgeries in September and October of 2015 to remove a disc fragment from his back.

But the pain only got worse from there. In 2017, Woods took the drastic step of trying an experimental surgery officially labeled “a minimally invasive Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (MIS ALIF) at L5/S1.” If the fusion procedure hadn’t worked out as planned, his career surely would’ve been over.

But it did. And it wasn’t.

Woods made a miraculous comeback from his fourth back surgery and won The Masters in 2019. His back has held up ever since that 2017 procedure. Well, until now.

Tiger Woods undergoes fifth back surgery

On Tuesday, Tiger Woods announced via his foundation that he recently underwent a fifth microdiscectomy procedure to remove a disc fragment from his back that was pinching his nerve. Woods didn’t give a timetable for his return, but he expects to make a “full recovery.”

“I look forward to begin training and am focused on getting back out on Tour,” Woods said in a statement.

Friends offer encouraging updates about Tiger Woods

If you’re a Tiger Woods fan, the last two words you want to hear are “back” and “surgery” after all he’s gone through since 2014. But according to some of Woods’ closest confidants, he’ll be fully healthy and back on Tour in no time.

Notah Begay, the Golf Channel commentator and Woods’ childhood friend, said Woods was experiencing “radiating pain” down his back and into his leg last month, but he was back hitting balls on the range as recently as Tuesday.

“One of the things he did bring up was that he noticed his clubhead speed was creeping down around 113 [mph], and I’ve known this guy since he was nine years old, and he might’ve been over 113 when he was nine back then. I don’t think it’s ever crept this low,” Begay said on Golf Central Tuesday. “This is just typical Tiger Woods. He’s gonna do anything and everything he can to get as close to pushing that edge for himself as possible, and this is just another way to alleviate pain.”

Rory McIlroy, one of Woods’ closest friends on Tour, also gave an encouraging update regarding the surgery.

“It was just something that was a — I think they were just trying to clean a couple little bits up,” McIlroy said ahead of the Abu Dhabi Championship this weekend. “Obviously, he won’t be playing for the next couple of months, but he should be back for the Masters, if not before that. So yeah, I think he’ll be just fine.”


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