Lat­est surgery eases pain Woods felt in his back, leg

Golfer’s re­cov­ery from back pro­ce­dure likely to take six months

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Steve DiMeglio @steve_dimeglio USA TODAY Sports

Tiger Woods won’t be back for some time.

Woods, who has made three starts in two years, likely won’t play again this sea­son af­ter he had his fourth back surgery Wed­nes­day in Texas. The lat­est pro­ce­dure al­le­vi­ated pain in his back and leg, Woods said on his web­site Thurs­day.

“The surgery went well, and I’m op­ti­mistic this will re­lieve my back spasms and pain,” Woods said in a state­ment. “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.”

Woods, who also has had four surg­eries on his left knee, first had surgery on his back in March 2014 and then had two pro­ce­dures in the fall of 2015.

Ac­cord­ing to his state­ment, a disk in Woods’ lower back se­verely nar­rowed be­cause of the three surg­eries, caus­ing sci­at­ica and se­vere back and leg pain. Dur­ing the re­cent surgery, the dam­aged disk was re­moved and the col­lapsed disk space was el­e­vated to nor­mal lev­els. The goal is to re­lieve the pres­sure on the nerve, the state­ment said. The oper­a­tion was per­formed by Richard Guyer of the Cen­ter for Disc Re­place­ment at the Texas Back In­sti­tute.

Woods, 41, last played in the Dubai Desert Clas­sic in Fe­bru­ary, where he shot a birdie-free 77 in the first round be­fore with­draw­ing. His only other start was in the Farmers In­sur­ance Open the week prior, where he missed the cut.

His only ap­pear­ance on the golf course in 2016 came at the Hero World Chal­lenge in De­cem­ber. While he fin­ished 15th in the 17-man field, he tied for the tour­na­ment lead in birdies (24) and looked healthy and up­beat.

He will be rest­ing for sev­eral weeks be­fore begin­ning ther­apy. The re­cov­ery pe­riod is typ­i­cally about six months. That would mean Woods, a win­ner of 14 ma­jor cham­pi­onships and 79 PGA Tour ti­tles, won’t play in any of the four ma­jors for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year. He is cur­rently ranked No. 788 in the world.

Woods was in good spir­its af­ter the surgery, said his agent, Mark Stein­berg.

“At this point, he feels some­what that a large weight has been lifted off his shoul­ders,” Stein­berg told USA TODAY Sports. “The three pre­vi­ous surg­eries were some­what tem­po­rary fixes. But it got to the point where the pain was more preva­lent, and this lat­est surgery was some­thing he had to do.”

Stein­berg said Woods de­cided to take a more con­ser­va­tive ap­proach with his back prob­lems in the past three years. That op­tion wasn’t avail­able this time.

“This is not a tem­po­rary fix,” Stein­berg said. “He was ad­vised by his doc­tors that this was the best path to a healthy, ac­tive lifestyle. He was play­ing with his kids, but he was in so much pain.

“Now he’ll have a healthy life with­out pain.”

One, Stein­berg said, that will in­clude play­ing golf.

“Ab­so­lutely,” Stein­berg said. “He wants to get out (on the PGA Tour) again.”

Woods’ last pub­lic ap­pear­ance be­fore the surgery was Tues­day in Hol­lis­ter, Mo., where he an­nounced he was de­sign­ing his first pub­lic golf course.

The course will be called Payne’s Val­ley in honor of Mis­souri na­tive Payne Ste­wart. Woods is a part­ner on the project with Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Mor­ris.

OR­LANDO JORGE RAMIREZ, USA TODAY SPORTS

Tiger Woods is ex­pected to miss all four ma­jors for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year.

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