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Woods Out Till 2009 — Torn ACL, Broken Leg

The news has just hit the wires — the much anticipated news mentioned on G4G yesterday — that Tiger Woods has been playing on a torn ACL in his knee and his rehab that followed his most recent knee surgery (which apparently had nothing to do with the ACL), left him with a stress fracture which he played through at the US Open.

From Woods’ website, moved minutes ago:

Just days after winning the 2008 U.S. Open in a dramatic sudden-death playoff, Tiger Woods announced that he will be forced to undergo reconstructive Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) surgery on his left knee and will miss the remainder of the PGA TOUR season.

In addition to the knee surgery, Woods will require the time off to rehabilitate a double stress fracture of his left tibia that was discovered last month just prior to the Memorial Tournament. The stress fractures were attributed to Woods’ intense rehabilitation and preparations for the U.S. Open. Doctors have assured Woods that the stress fractures will heal with time.

“I know much was made of my knee throughout the last week, and it was important to me that I disclose my condition publicly at an appropriate time. I wanted to be very respectful of the USGA and their incredibly hard work, and make sure the focus was on the U.S. Open,” said Woods. “Now, it is clear that the right thing to do is to listen to my doctors, follow through with this surgery, and focus my attention on rehabilitating my knee.”

A date for the knee surgery, as well as the necessary rehabilitation schedule, has not yet been determined.
Just days after winning the 2008 U.S. Open in a dramatic sudden-death playoff, Tiger Woods announced that he will be forced to undergo reconstructive Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) surgery on his left knee and will miss the remainder of the PGA TOUR season.

In addition to the knee surgery, Woods will require the time off to rehabilitate a double stress fracture of his left tibia that was discovered last month just prior to the Memorial Tournament. The stress fractures were attributed to Woods’ intense rehabilitation and preparations for the U.S. Open. Doctors have assured Woods that the stress fractures will heal with time.

“I know much was made of my knee throughout the last week, and it was important to me that I disclose my condition publicly at an appropriate time. I wanted to be very respectful of the USGA and their incredibly hard work, and make sure the focus was on the U.S. Open,” said Woods. “Now, it is clear that the right thing to do is to listen to my doctors, follow through with this surgery, and focus my attention on rehabilitating my knee.”

A date for the knee surgery, as well as the necessary rehabilitation schedule, has not yet been determined.

Remarkable. I guess Retief Goosen was wrong when he said Woods was playing up the knee injury.

So what does this mean for Tiger? He certainly should recover from the injury, but it leaves me wondering whether he’ll play a shorter schedule from this point on. Now this isn’t quite Ben Hogan getting hit by a bus, but it sounds pretty damned serious. It is quite likely that Tiger plays an abbreviated schedule going forward — and he was already playing almost the minumum number of events he needed as it was. Could he end up playing the four majors, a Buick event or two, and skipping things like the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup? Eight or nine events a year? It isn’t out of the question.

It also has a huge impact on golf. The FedEx Cup, the British Open, the PGA Championship, the Ryder Cup — all will be missing the game’s biggest star now. Golf’s television ratings were hurting before — and they will be crippled now.

At the least, the game will be changed for the next year in a way we haven’t experienced since 1997.

When does he return? Anyone’s guess. US Open 2009? That’s my guess. Will be return as the same player? That’s the question.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  • My guess is Tiger will be back for the Masters 2009, maybe an event or two just prior. Reconstructive ACL surgery generally takes a year for full recovery but many athletes playing contact sports come back sooner. Recovery is a function of body type/ recovery capability and rehab commitment. No issues on the latter for Tiger, unknown about the former.

    Without knowing his specific condition, it is hard to tell but an ACL repair is common and athletes come back with virtually full knee capability. Tiger should be able to return to his old form.

  • I’m much more optimistic than you are, Robert. I don’t see why this won’t actually allow him to play better. He was playing with the ACL problem since last year’s British, and I’d say his results on one good leg were pretty damn good. Assuming the surgery goes well (and I think it’s safe to say whoever cuts him open will know what he/she is doing) I think we may see him elevate his game yet again, as it will be the first time we’ve seen him at full strength with the Hank swing.

  • It’s possible to function quite well with an ACL problem, as many athletes have shown. Once repaired, and with proper rehab, it ceases to be a problem. However, there is a longer-term issue here. This will be Woods’ 4th surgery on that knee. Each time the joint is tinkered with there is a degradation. In his case, he has had 3 cartilage surgeries previously. This will almost surely lead to problems in due course. Given the tremendous torque he puts on that knee during his swing, the strain on the bearing surfaces of the joint is intense and given the cartilage work already done, he is on borrowed time. Arthritis is a very real possibility with that kind of work. Once that occurs, the Tiger Woods we know right now is history. He will need to make swing changes to accommodate that. He may well be tlaented enough to do that and still keep dominating the tour. But it will be a difficult process for him.

  • There is no reason to think that he will not be as dominant as ever when he returns next year. Look at how well he did this past week after taking two months off and being badly injured. If he is healthy and pain free and can practice then he should be good to go next year. But you’re right about him playing fewer tournies in the future – I wonder if this will cost the tour more sponsors and/or tournaments?

  • Of course I will miss watching him play.
    I won’t miss the constant drivel about Tiger that we get from Nance et. al. The announcers act like their trying to marry into his family. It’s unsettling.
    He will be back but this story is starting to take on a “Orr”ish air and I hope I am wrong. To see Tiger’s career shortened by recurring knee problems would be tragic.
    But it does make me wonder that if this is the end, is he the best ever to play the game already?
    Hmmmm………..

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