May
5
2014
Tiger Woods: Rehab is a slow process, still no date for return
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods
Woods has been able to practice putting since his surgery

Woods has been able to practice putting since his surgery

Missing the Masters wasn’t quite as tough on Tiger Woods as we might have expected. It was an easy decision to have surgery because he just couldn’t make a swing — simple as that, according to a new blog post on his website, TigerWoods.com on Monday

“I made the decision to have surgery because physically I just couldn’t make a golf swing,” wrote Woods. “That pretty much sums it up.”

His recovery is coming along nicely and there are positives from his check-ups.

“My recovery from microdiscectomy surgery for a pinched nerve in my back is coming along, but it’s a very slow process. I’m still sore. Not from the procedure itself but the incision. I just need to get back to my day-to-day activities, and that’s it.

“One reassuring thing from my medical exam is I have zero arthritic changes whatsoever. I’ve kept myself in very good shape over the years, and it has paid off. We knew going into this procedure that it really helps to be strong, especially in my glutes and my abs. I was strong in both departments, and that helps with the recovery and rehab, and you’re able to come back faster.”

He also enjoyed watching the Masters when he saw his good friend Fred Couples pop up on the leaderboard.

“Missing my first Masters was tough. I actually watched quite a bit of it because Freddie [Couples] was in contention. As soon as his name went up on the leaderboard, I started watching what he was doing. Once he got off to that bad start Sunday, it wasn’t as much fun.”

However, he’s delighted for Bubba Watson.

“I was happy for Bubba Watson and want to congratulate him on winning his second green jacket. The golf course sets up great for a long fader who is left-handed. It sets up perfectly because it’s so much easier to cut the ball than it is to turn it over on No. 10. On No. 13, it is much easier to cut it and carry it; if you try to carry it with a draw, it’s not going to stay in the air as much as it would with a cut. Same thing with No. 14. I think that’s one of the reasons Phil [Mickelson] and Bubba have done so well there is because they both fade the ball really well for lefties.”

While missing his first Masters in two decades was tough, it still wasn’t as hard as we might have assumed.

“Not being able to play in the Masters for the first time wasn’t as hard for me as you might think. I’ve missed major championships before, so this was not a new experience. It helps when I’m physically unable to play the game. That’s when it’s easy for me, and I don’t have a problem watching. It’s when I’m playing and closer to getting back out there is when I start getting real antsy about watching events: ‘Can I play, can I not play?’ But when I’m physically unable to play like in 2008 after my knee surgery, it makes things so much easier.”

He’s still unsure when he’ll return to competition.

“As for my return to golf, I really don’t know. I’m doing everything I can and listening to my doctors and working on a strength program, and then we just have to see how my back is. Some people heal up in three months, some people take four months, some people take longer. I just don’t know.”

As reported a few weeks ago, Tiger has been putting and doing some “light” chipping, but he still hasn’t been able to make a full swing yet.

“I haven’t used a sand wedge yet. I’ve just done putting and chip-and-runs using the same length of motion. I haven’t really rotated yet. As far as taking a full swing, I have conference calls with my doctors every couple of weeks to see how my progress is and just kind of chart it out from there. Basically, you just follow a program. It’s tedious because it’s little rehab stuff, but you still have to do it. That’s where I think the experiences of having gone through the surgeries in the past have really helped because you have to lay the foundation down first before you can do the more arduous activities and then return to form. I’m walking and able to cycle now and started swimming last week.”

When he starts making full swings again, he’s not sure if he’ll have to make changes to prevent a relapse, but he’s looking forward to working with his swing coach Sean Foley again (which should quell rumors that the pair have split).

“Once I begin swinging a club again, I’m not sure if I will have to make any changes to protect my back; that’s up to Sean Foley and me on what we do. As far as limitations, it’s a building process, just like when I came back from my knee and Achilles injuries. You start from the green and work your way back: putting, chipping, pitching, wedging, mid-irons, long irons, woods and eventually playing. That’s all a process and takes time. We have to make sure my back heals fine and I have the strength and mobility going forward.”

So, when should we expect to see him back on the links? Again, he’s not sure, but he may have dropped a hint at the timeline he’s targeting…

“As I’ve said several times, I hope to be back sometime this summer, but I just don’t know when. There are a lot of big tournaments coming up, and one that’s personally important to me is the Quicken Loans National. I really appreciate Quicken Loans becoming the title sponsor of my event. It means a lot to me and my foundation. Whether I’m able to play or not, I’m going to be there to support it. After Quicken, there’s Greenbrier and The Open Championship, and of the course the U.S. Open is about six weeks away. You can understand why I want to hurry up and get better. I’d also like to play in the FedExCup Playoffs and the Ryder Cup. But obviously, I’m going to have to play really well to earn points to get into the playoffs and play my way onto to the team or have to rely on a captain’s pick.”

So, perhaps he’ll be back to playing competitively by the Greenbrier and the Open Championship? Other predictions, anyone?

Hurry up and get better, Tiger! Say what you will about him, but golf is certainly more fun and intriguing when he’s around.