Tiger Woods limped to the finish of the 2019 PGA Tour season, and now we know why.
The 15-time major champion underwent surgery on his left knee to repair minor cartilage damage. He did not disclose when the injury occurred, but it’s safe to assume it was sometime after he won at Augusta and sometime before the surgery last week.
While this is interesting news, especially considering he played in the FedExCup Playoffs despite clearly being injured and really didn’t look the same since that storied stroll among the azaleas, what’s bigger is his injury history, specifically on his left knee, appears to be getting the best of golf’s most relentless competitor once again.
According to ESPN golf writer Bob Harig, this is Woods’ fifth surgery on that knee. It actually started all the way back in 1994, when Woods, 18 at the time, had surgery to remove two benign tumors and scar tissue from his left knee after earning a comeback victory in the U.S. Amateur. He had fluid and another cyst removed in 2002, tore his left ACL in 2007, and sprained his MCL in 2011. Add this surgery to the list and we have five. That’s a lot for one knee to take, especially when it’s the plant knee in a golf swing.
Of course, Woods has suffered many other injuries, including his Achillies, back, neck and shoulder. But his latest physical setback feels like an ominous sign of things to come. He had just gotten into playing shape at the end of the 2018 season, winning The Tour Championship, and seemed to be getting back to the player we all know and love at Augusta, where his flawless final nine on Sunday was enough to earn him a fifth green jacket. But when father time knocks on the same knee this many times, and when a golfer is 43-going-on-44, you can’t help but fear the worst.
Of course, a younger Woods returned from many of those knee injuries better than ever. And the fact that he wants to play in Japan in October is encouraging. The next step after that is the President’s Cup, where Woods is the captain and could pick himself for the team. If he puts himself in that kind of position, we can assume he’s feeling better. If he doesn’t, our greatest fears might be realized.