Tiger Woods will miss The Players Championship for the third time in four years and also is likely out for the rest of the season based on the estimated recovery time from his fourth back surgery since 2015 that was announced on his web site on Thursday.
Woods said in a post at tigerwoods.com that the surgery was done by Richard Guyer of the Center for Disc Replacement in Texas to alleviate pain in his back and leg.
“The surgery went well, and I’m optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain,” Woods said in the post. “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.”
The 41-year-old Woods, winner of 79 PGA Tour events and 14 major championships, will rest for several weeks before beginning rehabilitation. The procedure he underwent, according to Guyer, has a six-month window for full recovery, depending on the patient.
The Players is May 11-14 at the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Woods last competed in the tournament in 2015, tying for 69th. He won The Players twice, in 2001 and 2013, and has five career top-10s. He is the second-leading earner in history of the tournament with more than $4.4 million, behind Sergio Garcia ($5.25 million).
According to the web site, due to previous herniations and three surgeries, Woods’ bottom lower-back disc severely narrowed, causing sciatica and severe back and leg pain. Conservative therapy, which included rehabilitation, medications, limiting activities and injections, failed as a permanent solution, and Woods opted to have surgery.
The procedure was a minimally invasive Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (MIS ALIF) at L5/S1. The surgery entailed removing the damaged disc and re-elevating the collapsed disc space to normal levels. This allows the one vertebrae to heal to the other. The goal is to relieve the pressure on the nerve and to give the nerve the best chance of healing.
“Once that’s accomplished, his workouts will be geared to allowing him to return to competitive golf,” Guyer said. “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.”
Woods last played in the European PGA Tour’s event in Dubai, shooting a 77 in the first round before withdrawing. There had been optimism that he could return this year, based on a tie for 15th at the Hero World Challenge last December, an off-season event he hosts in the Bahamas. Woods shot 4-under 284 for the week and had middle rounds of 65-70.