Arnold Palmer and Golf Channel Doctor Have Opinion on Tiger Woods' Back

Kathy BissellCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2014

Arnold Palmer with Tiger Woods
Arnold Palmer with Tiger WoodsJohn David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

Talk about a coincidence. The day after Tiger Woods called Arnold Palmer to explain he would not be able to compete at the Arnold Palmer Invitational due to his lingering back injury, Palmer revealed that he also has back problems and is going to have a procedure after The Masters.

“We called it a hip problem,” Palmer said. “I’ve been through more physical exams and MRIs for back problems, and even more recently in the last two weeks I have seen things that they think they might be able to do something about.”

Palmer said the problem is not new.

“I had a very serious situation at the PGA in Dayton, Ohio, where I withdrew from the PGA because of a back problem,” he said. “At the time it was still diagnosed as a hip problem. It wasn’t ever a hip problem. It was always a back problem.”

He said numerous checks and tests had been done over the years, and, finally, this is the year he will do something about it so that he can enjoy the game a little more.

Regarding golf’s other famous back, Palmer said that when Tiger Woods called him to withdraw from this week’s tournament, he did not say how bad the back was.

“I don’t think he knows how bad his back is,” Palmer said. “I think he’s listening to the doctors, and he mentioned that they said he needs to give it a bit of a rest and see if he can work it out.”

The Golf Channel, rather than speculate, found a “back guy,” Dr. Ara Suppiah, who suggested on the Morning Drive program that Woods will probably follow the McKenzie technique for back pain.

Dr. Suppiah said Woods likely will begin by breaking the cycle of pain, which he said tightens muscles, followed by more pain, followed by the muscles tightening again. One of the best exercises he suggested was walking once the pain was controlled. He said it was likely that there could be muscle relaxers and acupuncture. 

Back pain, Suppiah said, can come from a variety of problems.  If it's a bulging disk, that is a condition that can be fixed, he said, like Retief Goosen’s was.

Regardless of the reason behind the back pain, it is causing Woods consternation, which Palmer said he could understand.

“I think he needs to take, whether it’s this week, next week, or the following week, to get ready for Augusta,” he said. “Certainly if I were in that position, I’d be doing much the same.”


Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.