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Golf without Woods? Battered leg brings it closer to reality

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THE PGA Tour without Tiger Woods was always inevitable purely because of age. His shattered right leg from his SUV flipping down a hill on a sweeping road through coastal Los Angeles suburbs only brings that closer.

Golf wasn’t ready Wednesday, Feb, 24, 2021, to contemplate the future of its biggest star after the 10th and most complicated surgery on the 45-year-old Woods. There was more relief that he was alive.

“Listen, when Tiger wants to talk about golf, we’ll talk about golf,” Commissioner Jay Monahan said at the World Golf Championship in Florida. “When you’re going to overcome what he needs to overcome, I think the love of all of our players and everybody out here, it’s going to come forward in a big way and across the entire sporting world. I think he’ll feel that energy and I think that’s what we should all focus on.”

Woods made it clear what he faces with an update posted early Wednesday to social media by his team that outlined the “long surgical procedure” at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Related story: Tiger Woods seriously injured in crash on steep LA-area road

Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer, said Woods shattered tibia and fibula bones on his right leg in multiple locations. Those were stabilized by a rod in the tibia. He said a combination of screws and pins were used to stabilize additional injuries in the ankle and foot.

Four previous surgeries to repair ligaments were done on the left knee. This is the first major trauma to the right leg. Woods has had five surgeries on his lower back in the last seven years. The most recent was in December, a microdiscectomy to remove a pressurized disk that was pinching a nerve.

“I would say, unfortunately, it’s very, very unlikely that he returns to be a professional golfer after these injuries,” said Dr. Michael Gardner, chief of orthopedic trauma at Stanford Medical Center. “His age, his multiple back issues, this is going to be a very long road ahead if he chooses to attempt to return to his previous level of golfing.”

Can golf do without the player singularly responsible for its growth?

His watershed victory in the 1997 Masters sent media interest in golf soaring. More than just the first player of Black heritage in a green jacket, he won at a more prolific rate than anyone in history. The timing was impeccable, for the PGA Tour negotiated a television contract that made prize money spike.

Woods won his first tournament as a 20-year-old in the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational, where the total purse was US$1.65 million. At the World Golf Championship this week, first place alone is worth $1.82 million. (AP)


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