GOLF

Tiger Woods has fusion surgery on right ankle, rest of majors in doubt

Apr 19, 2023, 2:08 PM | Updated: 2:08 pm

Tiger Woods had fusion surgery on his right ankle Wednesday morning to alleviate arthritis from a broken bone, putting in doubt whether he plays any more majors this year.

Woods disclosed the surgery on Twitter and said it was a subtalar fusion procedure to address post-traumatic arthritis from when he broke his talus bone in February 2021.

“He’s resting now and will start the recovery process,” Mark Steinberg, his agent at Excel Sports, said in a telephone interview.

The surgery took place in New York, and Steinberg said Woods has returned to his home near Jupiter, Florida, to begin rehabilitating.

As for when Woods could return to playing golf, Steinberg said there was “no timetable on this.”

“The first goal is to recover and lead a much more enjoyable day-to-day life,” he said.

Woods shattered multiple bones in his right leg and ankle in February 2021 when the SUV he was driving crashed off a suburban coastal Los Angeles road at about 85 mph and tumbled down the side of a hill. The injuries were so severe, Woods said, that doctors contemplated amputation.

Woods has had multiple surgeries on his leg as a result of the car crash. The ankle has been causing most of the problems of late, including a noticeable limp when he played four of the last five majors, most recently the Masters two weeks ago.

The talus is the second-largest of a group of bones known as the tarsus, which forms the lower part of the ankle joint and transmits the weight of the body from the lower leg to the foot. The subtalar joint allows for side-to-side movement needed for walking, especially on uneven surfaces.

Most estimates put recovery from subtalar fusion at eight to 12 weeks. That would all but rule out the PGA Championship next month — Woods was doubtful, anyway, given it will be at Oak Hill in Rochester, New York, with likely cold temperatures.

The U.S. Open is June 15-18 at Los Angeles Country Club, and the British Open is in three months (July 20-23) at Royal Liverpool in England.

Woods made an improbable return 14 months after the car crash to play in the Masters and walked 72 holes. Remarkably, he has missed only one cut — the British Open at St. Andrews last summer — although he withdrew after three rounds of the PGA Championship last year and he withdrew this year in the middle of the third round of the rain-delayed Masters.

Woods cited plantar fasciitis for his withdrawal from the Masters, where he tied the record by making his 23rd cut. Plantar fasciitis also was cited when he had to withdraw from his Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in December, which he said was caused by working too much to get ready to play.

Jason Day said at the Masters that Woods told him the reason for his withdrawal from the PGA Championship last year “was a screw went through the skin.”

Woods previously had five surgeries on his back. That included fusion surgery on his lower spine that allowed him to return to play. He won the Tour Championship in 2018, the Masters in 2019 for his 15th major championship and the Zozo Championship in Japan in the fall of 2019 for his 82nd career PGA Tour title, tying the career record of Sam Snead.

He has said in numerous interviews that hitting shots is not the problem, it’s walking to the next one. Woods also has said his schedule would be limited to the majors and maybe a few others, such as the 36-hole PNC Championship with his son in which he can ride in a cart.

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