Breaking down the injury history of Tiger Woods and his many comebacks
Woods' career has been defined by multiple injuries over the years, here's how he's recovered
One of the major narratives of this week's Hero World Challenge -- OK, the only narrative of this week -- is how Tiger Woods will perform in his first competitive golf tournament since the Wyndham Championship in 2015. Nobody, including Tiger, has any idea how any of this will play out, but we do have some history here with Woods.
He is a man whose second half of his career has been as defined by injury as his first half was defined by winning major championships. Knees, necks, backs and a litany of other maladies has left him a 40-year-old golfer who feels like he's going on 65. Maybe this comeback is different. Who knows?
Woods isn't going to win this week, of course, but I wanted to look back at his longest extended breaks from the game (think multiple months) and see how he performed when he came back to see if we could glean anything about how this traipse down to the Bahamas will unfold.
April 2008 (arthroscopic knee surgery)
This was the first of what would be a series of serious injuries for Big Cat. It would also be the most successful recovery he would ever have from serious time off as he did not play between the 2008 Masters (where he finished second) and 2008 U.S. Open (which he won). Time off: 2 months
Next start: Wins 2008 U.S. Open in playoff (72-68-70-73)
June 2008 (ACL surgery)
Woods would go on to miss a full eight months after ACL surgery following that famous 2008 U.S. Open. His 2009 was still tremendous. He won six times and had three other runners up after exiting in the second round of match play in his first tournament back. Time off: 8 months
Next start: Loses in second round of 2009 Match Play Championship
May 2011 (MCL strain and Achilles strain)
This was a mild injury compared to the rest. String them all together, and it starts to look ugly, though. Woods would not win again until the following March although he played pretty well in his first start back at Bridgestone. Time off: Three months
Next start: T37 at 2011 Bridgestone Invitational (68-71-72-70)
April 2014 (back surgery)
The first of three back surgeries for Woods. The question that lingers is whether this was the beginning of the end or just a speed bump on the way to 10 more years of competitive golf. Time off: 3 months
Next event: Missed cut at 2014 Quicken Loans National (74-75)
February 2015 (back injury, glute activation)
I was stunned at the way Woods played in the Masters after exiting from the Farmers Insurance Open with back and glute problems. That T17 he posted at Augusta after struggling all spring with his health and short game was honestly one of the more impressive feats I've ever seen him accomplish. Time off: 2 months
Next Event: T17 at 2015 Masters (73-69-68-73)
September 2015 (back surgery)
He had two back surgeries in the time he has taken off from the game. His much-anticipated return takes place in the Bahamas on Thursday. Time off: 15 months
Next event: 2016 Hero World Challenge
All of these comebacks are different. Some are long (years), and some are short (months). But Woods has figured out how to return from all of them. This time might be different, though.
"There was a lot of trepidation and times where I thought ‑‑ I did think of [whether I would play again] because it was realistic," said Woods on Tuesday. "When I had my knee re-done and it was completely blown, I knew it was nine months, but I knew I could come back from it. It's not nerve damage.
"When you're dealing with a spine, when you're dealing with nerves, it's a totally different deal. Talking to Davis [Love III], Davis had his neck fused. He had tingling down his arm, he couldn't feel his fingers anymore. That's, you know, your career could be over. Had it fixed, came back and won last year."
That's the question in golf (maybe in all of sports): Will Tiger win again? I get it all the time. Everywhere I go. Everybody I meet. He's done it before. Can he do it again? The great part about this game? Nobody actually knows.
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