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A career repeatedly interrupted: Recalling Tiger Woods’ long history of injuries

Tiger Woods has lost a significant chunk of his 25-year professional career to injury layoffs. The period between 2014 and 2017 was particularly taxing for the American with the second-most number of golf Majors to his name.

Written by Shashank Nair , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
February 25, 2021 8:14:11 am
Tiger Woods (Reuters Photo: Mike Segar, File)

Fifteen-time Major Golf Championship winner Tiger Woods was involved in a single-car accident on Tuesday (February 23) in Los Angeles. The crash left the 45-year-old with multiple leg injuries after he was pulled out of the wreckage by firefighters.

Woods was reportedly awake and responsive after he underwent emergency surgery. Though the injuries were not “life-threatening”, they add to the long list of medical problems that the master golfer has had to grapple with throughout his illustrious career.

Tiger Woods’ injuries over the years

Woods, who moved to the professional tour in 1996, has suffered injuries mainly to his knees, Achilles and, more recently, to his back.

From December 1994 to June 2008, Woods had issues in his left knee on five different occasions. They ranged from a benign tumour to a full-blown ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which he suffered in 2009.

From December 2008 to March 2012, Woods was beset with a host of injuries and sprains to both Achilles tendons.

And from May 2010 to April 2017, he suffered recurring back injuries – for which he has undergone five surgeries up until now, the last of which was in December 2020 to remove a pressured disk fragment that was pinching his nerve.

At that time, he had hoped to make a comeback to golf during the 2021 season.

Time lost in recovery and rehabilitation

Woods has lost a significant chunk of his 25-year professional career to injury layoffs. While some stints away have lasted a few months at a stretch, the period between 2014 and 2017 was particularly taxing for the American with the second-most number of golf Majors to his name.

He underwent a nine-month layoff after the ACL injury in 2009. This was followed by a three-month layoff in 2011 to resolve pain in his knee and Achilles.

As his career progressed, the injury layoffs became lengthier. In 2014, he had two periods where he was out of action for four months each, and in both instances, it was the back injury caused by a pinched nerve.

The 2014 to 2016 period was tough for Woods as was away from the circuit for a 15-month period at one point.

The former World No 1’s ranking, in the process, kept dropping. He exited the Top 100 in 2015, and fell to as low as 898 in 2016. A return in 2017 to the Hero World Challenge saw Woods’ ranking drop further to 1199.

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Tiger Woods’ recent form

Defying the rankings and rust from being away from the sport for so long because of the chronic list of injuries, Woods won his 15th Major – the Augusta Masters – in 2019 by a single shot.

This was after his fourth surgery, a lumbar fusion, which was done to drastically reduce the chronic lower back pain that he had endured for close to a decade.

Workers move a vehicle after a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

His health situation now

Woods’ right leg has suffered the most injuries. At the Harbour-UCLA Medical Centre, he has had a rod inserted in his tibia, and his foot and ankle have been “stabilised” with a combination of screws and pins, according to Anish Mahajan, the Chief Medical Officer at the hospital.

Not his first car-related mishap

This was Woods’ third car-related accident.

In 2009, he drove his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant and a tree around 2.30 am in the morning. He was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the incident, and he was treated at the hospital for minor injuries.

This was the beginning of revelations that Woods had been cheating on his wife. He lost major sponsors as a fallout.

The second incident happened in 2017, when police officers found him unconscious in his Mercedes, which was parked awkwardly. The driver’s side of the car was damaged as well.

He was arrested on a driving under the influence (DUI) charge; investigations revealed that he had marijuana, the painkillers vicodin and dilaudid, the anxiety and sleeping pill xanax, and the anti-insomnia drug ambien in his system at the time.

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