Tiger Woods: “I just play away from pain.”

Tiger Woods is at another new stage in his career.  It’s the beginning of his latest comeback, the most recent in a lengthy list of Woods’ injury and recovery periods.

Tiger Woods has already gone through least eight major ones since he turned pro. You have to give him credit.  The Big Cat is no quitter, and he still thinks he can win or he’d probably stay home, despite his withdrawal from the Omega Dubai Desert Classic after the 1st round of play.

“Over the course of my career, I have been less successful at winning golf tournaments than winning tournaments. But the goal is to win, and that doesn’t change,” he said to media in Dubai. “Whether I’m injured, coming off an injury or I’m playing well, or I’m playing poorly, if I’m in the event, it’s to win the event.”

So is this comeback any different than the others? It has certainly taken more time for Woods to recover from his third back surgery. Because the back problems have repeated themselves, the third surgery raised even more questions about Tiger Woods’ long-term durability. However, getting back to the winner’s circle for him is essentially the same procedure in each instance. It’s all about practice.

“If I can’t prepare to win a golf tournament, I feel ill-prepared to hit the shots and handle the shots down the stretch, and I’m not able to pull them off at home, there’s no reason why I should expect to be able to pull them off out here,” he explained. “That’s why I take practicing so seriously at home.”

He said that when he hits what looks to fans like a miraculous shot, he has already played that shot in practice. It might be a surprise to us that the shot worked out, but it’s not a surprise to him because of his work ethic.

However, with this comeback, his swing is noticeably different, and people are wondering why he is doing what he is doing. Woods claims he’s not looking for technical beauty.

“The simplest thing is I just play away from pain,” he explained. “Whether my swing looks classical, rhythmical or it may look unorthodox, I don’t care. As long as I don’t feel that nerve pain.”

He noted that anyone who has back pain or any kind of nerve pain would understand.  He compared it, on a minor scale, to hitting your funny bone over and over and over.  It’s not something you want to do.

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Though a long process, the rehab and recovery has not dulled his desire to win even if it has slowed his march to annihilate golf history.

I’ve had lean years there where I didn’t win,” Tiger Woods said. “I think I have, what, ten years where I won five or more tournaments, but there have also been years where I didn’t win (any) thing, and I struggled. I was changing my game and I did not play well.”

Whether this version is Tiger 4.0 for being over 40 or Tiger 8.0 for coming back eight times doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that he is giving it full effort at the beginning of this season to get his mind and body ready to win again.  He just doesn’t know when or if it will happen, but he seems to be confident that it will.

To summarize Woods’ major injuries:

December 2002:  surgery to remove fluid from around the ACL, left knee.

April 2008: arthroscopic surgery, cartilage damage, left knee; stress fractures in his left tibia.

June 2008:  stress fractures, left tibia; reconstructive surgery, ACL, left knee.

May 2011:  sprain of the MCL, left knee; and strain to the left Achilles’ tendon.

June 2013:  left elbow strain.

April 2014:  surgery for a pinched nerve in his back

September 2015: second microdisectomy surgery.

October 2015: procedure as a follow-up to back surgery

Still, whether or not Tiger Woods actually achieves his dream and manages a comeback victory at some point during the 2017 season, his fans remain faithful and his imprint on the game is enduring.

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