Tiger Woods has been ruled out of the three remaining majors this year - and possibly the rest of the season - after undergoing his fourth back operation.
The 41-year-old, who missed The Masters earlier this month and hasn’t played since the beginning of February, announced the news on his website, saying that the surgery had been to “alleviate ongoing pain in his back and leg”.
Woods is “optimistic” that this latest operation, which was carried out just two days after he’d hit his first shots in public since withdrawing following the opening round of the Dubai Desert Classic, will enable him to get “back to a normal life”.
However, it has merely increased fears that the 14-time major winner’s career could be over as it seems unlikely that any players, far less someone in their 40s, could withstand as many surgeries in just over two years. “The surgery went well, and I’m optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain,” Woods said. “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.”
A statement on the former world No 1’s website said the surgery had been carried out by Dr Richard Guyer, of the Centre for Disc Replacement at the Texas Back Institute.
“After he recovers from surgery, he will gradually begin his rehabilitation until he is completely healed,” said Guyer. “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.”
The statement indicated that patients undergoing such an operation typically return to full activity in about six months, meaning Woods is almost certain to miss the rest of the PGA Tour campaign.
“I would like to thank all the fans for staying in touch and their kind wishes,” he said. “The support I have received has never waned, and it really helps.”