This week last year, Tiger Woods was cleared to begin walking again. Yes, just walking.
Woods underwent his fourth back surgery in the spring of 2017. Only this time is the goal was just to live a normal life again. Golfing again wasn’t even a thought.
“No, no, no,” Tiger said on Tuesday when asked about if he expected to be back at the U.S. Open this time last year. “I had no — there’s really no expectation to have the thought that I could actually be here again.
“I was just given the okay to start walking again, start moving around, and this was, what, June. So I hadn’t been cleared to start lifting yet. And so it was about just having my standard of life. Forget golf. Can I actually participate in my kids’ lives again? That’s something that I had missed for a few years, and that was the main goal of it.”
The back fusion surgery was a success and with baby steps, Woods began to regain freedom. The freedom from striking nerve pain going down his leg and extending to his lower back.
Golf went on without Woods, but the question loomed if Woods would ever return. As days flew by, more and more people began to write Tiger Woods off. Even Tiger considered a life without golf when asked about it at the 2017 Presidents Cup.
The question was blunt, and the answer was shocking.
‘What if Tiger decided there was no way he could come back?’
But Tiger knew something we all didn’t know. Woods was holding all the cards and kept a poker face throughout his elongated process of returning to professional golf.
“It was a bonus to say, why don’t you go hit some putts today,” Woods said. ‘Really? I can putt?’ And then it was chip. When I was at the President’s Cup, when I saw a lot of you guys there, I had no idea. I hadn’t been cleared yet.”
The floodgates finally opened up when Woods decided to return at his own event, the Hero World Challenge. He finished 9th out of the small 18-man field comprised of the top players in the world.
Woods has given himself a few chances to win recently, but major championships are a different animal. It will have to be a near-perfect week for Woods if he wants to beat both the field and Shinnecock Hills.
But for today, Woods is happy he has made it this far. Golf has been a bonus and he is cashing in on the second chance.
“So to go from there to where I’m at now, I had no expectation of getting this far,” Woods added. “A lot of this is pure bonus because of where I was. To be able to have this opportunity to play USGA events, to play against these guys, best players in the world, it’s just a great feeling and one that I don’t take for granted.”
A decade old.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 12, 2018