Updates from Tuesday, June 17
Tiger Woods continues to heal from an injured back and is beginning to edge closer to a return. According to Golf Channel's Tim Rosaforte, via Pete Madden of Golf.com, Woods has been hitting "full shots, including driver."
More from Rosaforte:
We should not read too much into this, as it relates to next week or the Open Championship. Just because he's hitting balls does not mean that he's ready to be tournament competitive, however, obviously, this is tremendous news as it relates to the condition of his back and his overall health, the fact that he's out there taking full cuts.
Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent, commented on the reports to Bob Harig of ESPN:
"Tiger is making continual progress,'' Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, told ESPN.com in a text message Tuesday morning. "He feels better each day and is extending his swing as he progresses."
Updates for Wednesday, May 28
Tiger Woods' official website reported that the golfer will miss the U.S. Open this summer, marking the second time he's failed to appear in the tournament this decade:
Tiger Woods will not play in the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C., next month, he announced Wednesday. He is still rehabbing after undergoing microdiscectomy surgery for a pinched nerve in his back on March 31.
"Unfortunately, I won't be there because I'm not yet physically able to play competitive golf," Woods said. "I'd like to convey my regrets to the USGA leadership, the volunteers and the fans that I won't be at Pinehurst. The U.S. Open is very important to me, and I know it's going to be a great week. Despite missing the first two majors, and several other important tournaments, I remain very optimistic about this year and my future."
Updates from Monday, May 19
NBC's Dianna Marie Russini provides a synopsis of Tiger Woods discussing his injury status:
Tiger Woods says there is no date for his return. He says he misses playing. Misses the game.— Dianna Marie Russini (@NBCdianna) May 19, 2014
Tiger Woods says forget playing golf at the highest level...there were times he couldn't get out of bed. The procedure helped— Dianna Marie Russini (@NBCdianna) May 19, 2014
ESPN's Britt McHenry continued:
"Prior to surgery I didn't feel like I'd have much more of a career." Tiger Woods says now he feels confident about longevity— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) May 19, 2014
Updates from Thursday, May 8
Tiger Woods is at least set to play in one more tournament this year as long as he is healthy enough to compete. ESPN's Bob Harig provides a summary of Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, discussing a brand new tournament and Woods' potential involvement:
His back permitting, Tiger Woods will partner with Matt Kuchar in a new team event to be played in Argentina in late October, agent Mark Steinberg confirmed on Wednesday.
Woods, who is missing his title defence at The Players Championship this week at TPC Sawgrass following back surgery in March, is slated to play the event in Buenos Aires from October 21 to 26.
Updates from Monday, May 5
Tiger Woods posted a blog entry on his official website today to provide fans with insight into his recovery:
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.
Woods continued with a statement on his potential return to the green:
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.
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.
Updates from Friday, April 25
The Golf Channel reported the latest on Tiger's potential return date:
While Tiger Woods has not yet set a timetable for his return to competition, Golf Channel sources indicate that fans could see the world No. 1 back in action in July.
Woods informed the public on April 1 that he had undergone successful surgery to alleviate a pinched nerve that had been plaguing him for months, and as a result the 38-year-old missed the Masters for the first time in his professional career. Sources tell Golf Channel that Woods is targeting a return at the Open Championship, which will be held July 17-20 at Royal Liverpool.
Updates from Thursday, April 24
Tiger's agent, Mark Steinberg, provided a report on Woods' recovery and a loose timetable for his return in an interview with Bob Harig of ESPN.com:
He's doing a little bit more and more each day. He's getting to the point of light chipping and putting and the doctors and trainers seem to be pleased with where he is. He is on schedule but we don't know what that schedule means. I don't know when he intends to be playing competitively.
But I expect it to be this summer. I know that's a wide range, but as the weeks go by we'll be able to pinpoint an approximate time. It's still a little early for that. Nothing that has gone on from the day of the surgery until today gives me any pause to amend what I said then. I know that's broad and vague but we can't pinpoint a specific time until we're further along.
Updates from Wednesday, April 9
The Associated Press provides an update on Tiger Woods' recovery and expected return following back surgery, via ESPN:
Masters chairman Billy Payne says Tiger Woods has to be immobilized for two weeks after his back surgery. ...
Payne says Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, told him that Woods has to be "very still" for at least a couple of weeks.
Woods has said he will not be able to return to golf until sometime this summer.
Updates from Tuesday, April 1
Tiger Woods gave a status update via his official website Tuesday, and the news wasn't good, as he won't be able to play in the Masters:
Tiger Woods announced Tuesday that he has undergone a successful microdiscectomy for a pinched nerve that has been hurting him for several months.
The surgery was performed Monday in Park City, Utah, by neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Rich.
The procedure was successful, but Woods will be unable to play in the Masters Tournament, instead requiring rest and rehabilitation for the next several weeks.
"After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided, in consultation with my doctors, to have this procedure done," Woods said.
"I'd like to express my disappointment to the Augusta National membership, staff, volunteers and patrons that I will not be at the Masters," Tiger added. "It's a week that's very special to me. It also looks like I'll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy.
"I'd also like to thank the fans for their support and concern. It's very kind and greatly appreciated. This is frustrating, but it's something my doctors advised me to do for my immediate and long-term health."
Updates from Monday, March 31
Tiger Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, talked about the chances of the golf star playing in the Masters (via Brian Biggane of the Palm Beach Post):
Mark Steinberg, Tiger Woods' agent, said late today a decision would be made 'very, very shortly' on Tiger's status for the Masters.— Brian Biggane (@bbiggane) March 31, 2014
Updates from Monday, March 24
Ryan Lavner of GolfChannel.com provides a statement from Tiger Woods discussing his injury status:
For Augusta, it’s still a little too soon (to know), to be honest with you. That’s kind of the frustrating thing about this.
I had a couple weeks off, was getting treatment and trying to get ready for Augusta. As of right now, it’s still too soon. As I said, that’s very frustrating.
Citing ongoing pain and spasms in his back, Tiger Woods officially withdrew from the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational on Tuesday, the world No. 1 announced in a statement released on his official website.
Woods, 38, has been dealing with back problems dating to last year's FedEx Cup. While he was able to play through the pain and entered the 2014 season seemingly primed for another crack at his first major in more than a half decade, the pain and continued spasms cropped up at the Honda Classic earlier this month.
He withdrew after playing just 13 holes of his final round at the Honda Classic. Even though Woods attempted to continue playing his regular schedule, including a somewhat promising turn before a last-round collapse at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, his statement made clear the back was still a major issue:
I personally called Arnold today to tell him that, sadly, I won't be able to play in his tournament this year. I would like to express my regrets to the Orlando fans, the volunteers, the tournament staff and the sponsors for having to miss the event. Unfortunately, my back spasms and the pain haven't subsided.
It's too early to know about the Masters, and I will continue to be evaluated and work closely with my doctors. I feel badly that I won't be able to play in this great tournament this week.
Woods has won eight Arnold Palmer Invitationals, including each of the last two seasons. The tournament is held every year at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Florida, perhaps Woods' favorite all-time golf course. He was scheduled to pair with Harris English and Graeme McDowell for the first two rounds.
Overall, his withdrawal is a disappointment but not a major surprise. There were some who questioned Woods' decision to even enter the Bay Hill event, citing rest as his No. 1 priority with the Masters looming in the offing.
More interesting, though, is Woods' non-committal to playing at Augusta National. It's been nearly a full decade since he last donned the green jacket, but entering every last major counts at this point. Woods has been stuck at 14 career majors since 2008, and with five more needed to surpass Jack Nicklaus, the odds are starting to mount against him.
Mike Buteau of Bloomberg News seems to think it's more likely than not Woods doesn't play in this year's event:
Tiger Woods WDs from Bay Hill with back spasms. Says "it's too early to know about the Masters." That might tell you all you need to know.— Mike Buteau (@MikeButeau) March 18, 2014
Even if age wasn't a factor in Woods' career trajectory, a long-term back injury certainly merits concern. Golfers exert untold torque on their back with every swing—nothing about Woods' training regimen or swing adjustments can change the sport he plays. Given that he's had issues going back to at least last season, coupled with past knee issues, it's not unfair to wonder whether Woods' body is breaking down.
At the very least his struggles present a massive hole atop the sport that someone has to pick up. Phil Mickelson is even older than Woods, while Rory McIlroy continues to be a tantalizing but frustrating talent.
Woods is a once-in-a-generation athlete, but with these continued issues, it might be time to start looking at who's next. At least for now.
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