In The News

Impact of spinal fusion on Tiger Woods

Generic image of an L5S1 fusion of the lumbosacral spine

Neilank K. Jha is a Canadian trained Neurosurgeon & Spine Surgeon and is currently attending the London School of Economics studying Behavioural Sciences.

I have not had the privilege to consult with Tiger Woods, however in general, biomechanically the golf swing is based on thoracic rotation and ideally the lumbar spine should have limited mobility. The lumbar spine is meant to stabilize one’s torso and the thoracic spine is involved in rotation. As a result Tiger Wood’s lumbar fusion may not restrict his swing and may even provide some biomechanical benefit. Golf digest previous story. 

Did Tiger ever have the yips?

I have never thought Tiger had the yips. I believe the low back pain and nerve pain (neuropathic pain) did not allow him to stay down for the swing and hence he was hitting thin shots. The spinal fusion has potentially achieved two things. It has stabilized his spine to prevent low back pain and has also provided relief by decompressing the nerve.

Will Tiger win another Major?

At the Honda Classic Tiger’s club head speed was clocked at over 125 mph, carry distance over 310 yards and was third in the week for driving distance. I guess the reports of him outdriving Ricky Fowler and Dustin Johnson in practise rounds were true.

Both his putting and short game look sharp.

I personally don’t think the question is whether Tiger will win another major but rather how many more is he capable of winning and is 18 out of reach? Hear me out please.

Peyton Manning had multiple cervical spine operations and never regained his throwing form, however, went on to win a super bowl with Denver.

Sidney Crosby was out with a concussion for 108 games and came back to win 2 more Stanley Cups, Olympic Gold and a World Cup.

Tom Brady was in the Super Bowl this year at 40.

Let’s not forget Jack Nicklaus who won a Masters at the age of 46.

Tiger is in top golf form demonstrated by his track man numbers. He may be one of the mentally toughest athletes of all time (world #1 683 weeks in total and 281 consecutive weeks).

A few more high finishes and a win and Tiger will regain the invincibility he once had. The ´Tiger effect’ of him climbing up the leaderboard will once again reverberate with the other competitors in the field.

As golf fans we have tried to fill the void with great players like Johnson, Day, Spieth, Thomas and others, however, it just isn’t the same without Tiger.

How will Tiger do at this year’s Masters?

Historically Tiger and Augusta have got along well. Tiger with his successful fusion operation, in good form, hungrier than ever all leads me to believe that he will place in the top 5.

When Brandon Chamblee one of Tiger’s fiercest critics states that Tiger has something to be giddy about, I translate that to mean major number 15 is not far away.

Comments (0)