Just because Tiger Woods is the best golfer in the world does not mean he is immune to injury. Tiger has actually been hurt a lot more than you might think. The man is only thirty-four years old and has been through some intense rehab on his knee. Not to mention the mental rehabilitation he has gone through since last November. But that is neither here nor there.
Tiger has a swing speed around 130-135 miles an hour. Imagine all of the golf balls he hits on the practice tee, not to mention in tournaments and practice rounds. He is a workout machine, but he can still get hurt like the rest of us. I wanted to take some time to discuss Tiger’s growing list of injuries and talk a little bit about how they might effect his game the older he gets.
Tiger was in a single car accident last November just outside of his home in Windermere, Florida. He actually hit a fire hydrant and then ended up hitting a tree near the end of his driveway. However, I will let you decide what caused the accident. I ignore speculations that his wife was chasing after him. (I hate to say this, but the South Park episode where they make fun of Tiger and other cheating celebrities is quite funny.) In this crash Tiger suffered facial lacerations, and a busted up lip that required immediate medical attention. He was later released from the hospital, but had to visit after the accident to clean up all the cuts and bruises he suffered.
In golf, you depend so much on your sight. Tiger, however, has now undergone laser eye surgery twice. He went through it most recently in April of 2007. Ever since his first surgery, early in his career, he had been complaining about squinting and massive headaches. The result was another surgery. Tiger is actually sponsored by LASIK. You can watch a video of him on their website explaining his operation and the success that he had once it was completed.
This is a big one for Tiger. He actually withdrew from the TPC Championship because of this injury. Some folks say that he was not really injured at all, and that he just didn’t want to finish in last place. However, I think this is a serious injury, and one that can creep back up if he is not careful.
The issue is an inflamed facet joint in his neck. The facet joint is actually located on either side of the neck, and is used to help stabilize the neck during movement. These joints are also used for extending, bending, and rotating the neck. The injury that Tiger suffered from earlier this year was said to be a “season ending injury.” However, Tiger was back in action only a few weeks later. This did not help the fact that half of the population thought he was faking it to begin with.
I am sure you remember this one. Tiger was playing in the final round of the US Open back in May of 2008 when he injured his knee. Because of the incredibly fast swing speeds he produces, this is not something to ignore. While playing in the final round, he tore his leg up so badly that it was actually considered broken in medical terms. He continued to finish the round, making a long putt on the last hole to force a playoff. He would later win that event after a few longer birdie putts found their way into the hole. He took some time off, had surgery, and managed to recover quite nicely from it.
In December of 2008, again because of the quick swing speed, he tore his Achilles tendon. He began rehabilitation on the muscle and ended up being fine for the rest of the season. But again, like his leg and his neck, this is not an injury to ignore. This is a muscle used every time he takes a step, and when you swing a club over times a day, you need to have all the strength you can in that muscle.
Too bad that stress is one of the leading causes of head and neck injuries. Tiger has suffered an immense amount of stress in his career. From an early age he has been traveling the world playing in tournaments, dealing with immediate fame when he turned pro back in 1996. Add the worry of multiple swing changes and teaching instructors, the passing of his father, and the latest sex scandal that he has found himself in the middle of. Just a few weeks ago, a lady said Tiger was the father of her eleven-year-old son. (I must admit that the kid does look an awfully lot like Tiger.)
It was a while ago, but back in 1995, Tiger withdrew from the US Open after suffering a wrist injury. He was hitting a shot out of extremely deep rough, and that was that. The wrists are so crucial in getting a good rotation around the body, putting a lot of spin on the ball, and just simply swinging a golf club. As with the every part of the body, making sure these are in tip top shape is a must. I mean, have you seen him hit some of the shots he does? When Tiger gets into some deep rough, he always muscles his way out of it somehow. That eventually puts a lot of stress on his wrists.
Let’s get back to the legs. Tiger had ACL reconstruction on his left knee in 2008. This would actually prove to be Tiger’s fourth surgery on his knee. This came at the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines. It would later be revealed that Tiger had actually been playing for ten months with a torn cruciate ligament. He would later state that just walking was painful for him, let alone swinging a golf club. And you can see that in his face when he swings. Watch some coverage of that event and you will see what I am talking about.
Tiger is a prime position to simply fall apart if he is not careful. Granted, Tiger runs about five miles a day and lifts weights for about three hours a day, not to mention the balls he hits and the rounds he plays. He is not ignoring his health by any means. But health is one of the most valuable assets to a golfer. As long as Tiger can stay healthy, he will be fine. I just hope that he can get all of these major health issues out of the way and start hitting some more fairways pretty soon. Just be careful this year out there on the PGA Tour. Tiger is hitting the ball better than he has in two years. As soon as he figures out that putting stroke, he might not ever lose again. Go get them Tiger!