Tiger Woods doesn’t know when he’ll return to competitive golf again following the somewhat surprising announcement last month that he had undergone back surgery for the second time in 18 months. Woods appeared in Mexico City on Tuesday for the Bridgestone America’s Golf Cup, a two-man team event he planned to play with Matt Kuchar prior to this latest injury setback.
He didn’t give a timeline for his return, but revealed that he had yet to start the rehabilitation process. He also implied it might take him at least a year to get healthy.
“I feel good, I’m just stiff; that’s the way it is after surgery,” said Woods. “I haven’t been allowed to do much of anything.
“I’ll start my rehab soon, but it’s a long and tedious process. The last time, it took me a long time to come back. Some of the guys who have had it (microdiscectomy) done said it took them over a year to be pain free. I hope it doesn’t take me that long to be pain free.”
Sounds like it might be a while before we see Woods playing competitive golf again. His last start was at the Wyndham Championship, the last regular season event in the PGA Tour’s 2014-15 season — where he tried to make one final push to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. Though he finished T10, his best showing at a Tour event in almost two years, he missed the cut-off to make the post-season, failing to finish in the top 125 in FedEx Cup points.
It caught everyone off-guard when Woods announced on September 18th that he had undergone a second microdiscectomy after doctors discovered a problem during a routine checkup. Woods endured the same surgery in March 2014, and since then, has admitted he probably returned to competition too soon.
“First of all, I need to be healthy,” Woods said. “I tried to fight through some stuff this year and it wasn’t a lot of fun and I was in that much pain. On top of that, my first back operation, I was also in the midst of changing my swing, too. It was a tough situation to go through that.”
Woods didn’t give a precise timeline of when he plans to return, but the underlying message seemed to indicate that it won’t be anytime soon.
“There’s a process,” he said. “Little stuff before I can get stronger. Then I have to get explosive. Then I have to do it for a long period of time. And then playing like that for a long period of time.
“I don’t know how many months that it’s going to be. But it won’t be short. It’ll take months of hard work.”
Woods, who turns 40 in December, still has his sights set on breaking Jack Nicklaus’ major record of 18 titles. Woods has 14 major victories, but no player has won four majors after turning 40. The world no. 334 figures he’ll just have to emulate VIjay Singh, who won 22 times in his 40s (only one major).
“It’s important for me to have more than 18 majors when all is said and done,” Woods said. “It took Jack his whole career to achieve it and mine is not done yet. I believe that I have a very good record for 20 years on the tour. The main thing is to get fit and to reach my 40s with good health to be as successful as Vijay, who won most of his tournaments at that age.
“It’s something that I hope I will be able to do. I want to play at an elite level with the new kids for a long, long time.”