Shortly after my latest post about Tiger Woods possibly skipping the British Open to get his left knee in better working order, his management team dropped this bombshell:
Woods, who won Monday's U.S. Open in a playoff, will be out of action for the remainer of the 2008 season.
Woods, 32, will undergo reconstructive surgery on his left knee at an undetermined date in the near future. He's already had three arthroscopic procedures on the same knee, including one in April, but this will be his first reconstructive procedure (similar to what running backs endure in football) to repair a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
Typically, football players require a full year to return to full health from such a procedure. The release from Woods' management company, IMG, does not specify a date for the procedure or a projected rehab schedule.
It did, however, include two eye-opening revelations:
1. Woods suffered the ruptured ACL while jogging last summer, shortly after the 2007 British Open, and had been playing through the pain until he had arthroscopic surgery on April 15, 2008.
2. Woods suffered a double stress fracture of his left tibia while doing rehabilitation exercises following his April 15 arthroscopic knee surgery. So he played at the 2008 U.S. Open with pain from both his left knee and left tibia. The release from IMG says doctors have assured Woods that the stress fractures will heal in time.
The bottom line for fans: Woods will not play in another golf tournament until an undetermined time on the 2009 PGA Tour calendar.
At 32, Woods remains well ahead of Jack Nicklaus' career pace in terms of winning major championships and would return in the prime of his career, as long as he returns fully healthy from his upcoming knee surgery.
We've all seen countless football players recover and never miss a beat in their careers. We've also seen football players undergo major knee operations and never achieve the same level of greatness they enjoyed before their ACL surgeries. So, this is clearly a career crossroads for Woods.
In a statment issued by Woods, he said he chose not to disclose the severity of his injury before or during the U.S. Open because doing so would have taken focus away from the tournament. At this point, however, Woods said it is time to share all details.
"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," Woods said in his statement. "While I am obviously disappointed to have to miss the remainder of the season, I have to do the right thing for my long-term health and look forward to returning to competitive golf when my doctors agree that my knee is sufficiently healthy. My doctors assure me with the proper rehabilitation and training, the knee will be strong and there will be no long-term effects."
_ Jimmy Burch