As Tiger Woods Masters speculation escalates, surgeon weighs in on golf legend’s chances

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Speculation over whether Tiger Woods would play at the Masters next week in Augusta, Georgia intensified when his plane was spotted at a local airport and he was reportedly taking part in an 18-hole practice round.

Although Woods has been seen on the golf course several times – even competing in the PNC Championship in December – he has yet to compete in an event this year and has said he will not be competing full-time on the PGA Tour. as he did before. .

Woods has had back issues for the past decade and broke his leg in a February 2021 car accident in Los Angeles. Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Rahul Shah told Fox News Digital in a recent interview that Woods’ injury story is “certainly eye-opening,” but every injury and recovery process is different.

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Inductee Tiger Woods speaks during the 2022 World Golf Hall of Fame induction at the PGA Tour Global Home on March 9, 2022, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Inductee Tiger Woods speaks during the 2022 World Golf Hall of Fame induction at the PGA Tour Global Home on March 9, 2022, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
(Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

“The truth is, you have to take every injury one step at a time. If you chronicle his injuries, you start with multiple bumps and bruises growing up and then he suffered a major twisting injury to his back where he suffered a blew out one of his discs,” said Shah, who specializes in complex spinal conditions and minimally invasive surgeries.

“It gave him a problem, and he had to shave it. Then it happened again, so they did another shave. But it wasn’t enough, so they had to do surgery to get practically the whole area where this disk was not working well to make it merge.

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“He’s recovering from that and all of that, of course, is recoveries to try and get him on his wing. What that really speaks to is the amount of lead he had before, the amount of ability he had. he had because all this (injuries) are reducing his skills.

Tournament host Tiger Woods speaks after the Genesis Invitational on Feb. 20, 2022, at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.

Tournament host Tiger Woods speaks after the Genesis Invitational on Feb. 20, 2022, at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.
(Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“Then he had this unfortunate (car) accident and what I can tell from what was leaked to the media, it looked like it was going to be a while before he got back, and he did. significant recovery even faster than expected.”

Shah said it was clear Woods was back in the frame of mind to focus on his recovery and get back to class. He said playing in smaller competitions could help him prepare for bigger tournaments.

“Also, he has made significant progress when it comes to small games,” Shah said. “There’s nothing like progressing in smaller arenas just to make sure you can progress in bigger arenas. He had this father-son golf match recently, and he got away with it. came out well.

“I think overall things are going to be more difficult, but he clearly has the skills and the wherewithal and the mental memory (and) the muscle memory that he’s cultivated to be able to at least give him the ability to progress in some of these upcoming tournaments.”

Woods’ last PGA Tour tournament was the Masters in November 2020, which was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He hasn’t played in a PGA Tour competition since. And although there is always a risk of injury, it is the small steps he has taken to find a rhythm that will help him.

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“I think his probability of injury is higher. Is it catastrophic? The answer is no,” Shah said. “And the reason for that is that he basically went through smaller rooms and made progress and was able to hold on. That tells you he has the stamina and the ability to progress.

“The real question is will he be able to hit the ball the way he did before he can get to where it needs to be. And I think that might not be the perfect comparison or the starting point. I think what we need to do is see how he progresses and use his current games as a new baseline.”

Tiger Woods smiles on the 12th hole during the final round of the PNC Championship at Ritz Carlton Golf Club Grande Lakes on December 19, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.

Tiger Woods smiles on the 12th hole during the final round of the PNC Championship at Ritz Carlton Golf Club Grande Lakes on December 19, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.
(Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Shah, a former Orlando Magic team doctor and partner at Premier Orthopedic Associates in New Jersey, expressed optimism that Woods would be able to play the full four rounds.

“I think there’s a significant possibility that he does, especially because he trained for it. We don’t see the training he went through behind the scenes. So I think that there’s a really reasonable chance,” Shah said. “I would say better than saying 80% he can win all four days.”

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The first round of the Masters begins on April 7 and ends on April 10. Hideki Matsuyama is the defending champion. He beat Will Zalatoris by one stroke in 2021.

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