Tiger Woods announced Thursday that he has undergone successful back surgery to alleviate ongoing pain in his back and leg, sidelining the 14-time major champion for what is expected to be the rest of the 2016-17 season.
It is Woods’ fourth surgery since early in 2014. He had two surgeries in the fall of 2015 and has played sparingly since then.
The announcement comes just two days after Woods hit a couple shots during a public appearance to announce his new golf course design at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri and said at the outing that his back was “progressing” and he has “good days and bad days.”
Woods hit his first wedge shot into the water fronting the green on a 100-yard hole, then drew cheers for a second try that stopped close to the pin.
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“The surgery went well, and I'm optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain,” Woods said in a release on his website. “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."
According to Woods’ release, due to previous herniations and three surgeries, Woods' bottom lower-back disc severely narrowed, causing sciatica and severe back and leg pain. 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, according to Woods’ release. 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 operation was performed by Dr. Richard Guyer of the Center 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 through the release. “Once that's accomplished, his workouts will be geared to allowing him to return to competitive golf.
“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,” Guyer added.
Woods will now rest for several weeks, then begin therapy and treatment. Patients typically return to full activity in about six months, the release said.
Woods, 41, has won 79 PGA Tour events and has also had several other medical issues, including multiple knee surgeries since his first in 2002.