Latest back op costs Tiger 6 months

LOS ANGELES • Former top golfer Tiger Woods announced on his website on Thursday that he has undergone a fourth back surgery to alleviate pain, one that is likely to sideline him at least until October.

"The surgery went well, and I'm optimistic this will relieve my back spasms and pain," said the 41-year-old, who has not played competitive golf since pulling out of the Dubai Desert Classic on Feb 3 with back spasms.

Typical recovery time after his latest procedure is about six months, the announcement on the website said. That timeline would mean missing the remainder of this PGA Tour season and the Presidents Cup matches.

Woods first had back surgery shortly before the 2014 Masters and had two more procedures after the 2015 season, following which he was sidelined for more than a year.

"When healed, I look forward to getting back to a normal life, playing with my kids, competing in professional golf and living without the pain I have been battling so long," he said in the statement.

The announcement comes two days after Woods said his back was "progressing" as he briefly answered questions at a function in Missouri to announce a golf course being designed by his TGR Design company. The 14-time Major champion hit two shots in front of an appreciative crowd - the first finding the water.

Now, according to his website, Woods "will rest for several weeks, then begin therapy and treatment.

"While each procedure and case is unique, patients typically return to full activity in about six months."

The procedure, performed by Dr Richard Guyer of the Centre for Disc Replacement at the Texas Back Institute, was a minimally invasive anterior lumbar interbody fusion, aimed at relieving pressure on the nerve that was leading to sciatica and severe back and leg pain.

"Conservative therapy, which included rehabilitation, medications, limiting activities and injections, failed as a permanent solution and Woods opted to have surgery," the statement said.

Injuries have helped stall Woods' pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 Major titles.

He missed the Masters earlier this month for the third time in four years. His last Major crown came at the 2008 US Open, and the 2015 Masters marked the last time he even made the cut at a Major.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'Latest back op costs Tiger 6 months'. Print Edition | Subscribe