Fourteen-time major winner Tiger Woods is preparing for a lengthy spell away from the sport, having yet to begin rehabilitation following a second bout of back surgery. The former world number one was ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing a procedure – known as microdiscectomy – to remove a second disc fragment from his spine in mid-September.
Woods had initially targeted a return in "early 2016" but, having yet to begin recovering from going under the knife, is having to scale back his return to the professional game. The 39-year-old will begin rehab "soon" but without a timeline on his recuperation, which will also include the continual remodelling of his swing, no date has been set for his return.
Following the first stint of surgery undergone in March 2015, Woods missed three months of the season before enduring the worst campaign of his professional career. He missed the cut at the last three major championships, with his season ending at Wyndham Championship where he finished tied for 10th – his best result of the year. However, his latest absence is expected to extend deep into the new year.
"I feel good, I'm just stiff; that's the way it is after surgery," said Woods, speaking in Mexico City ahead of the Bridgestone American's Golf Cup where he was due to play with Matt Kuchar, according to ESPN. "I haven't been allowed to do much of anything.
"I'll start my rehab soon, but it's a long and tedious process. The last time, it took me a long time to come back. Some of the guys who have had it [microdiscectomy] done said it took them over a year to be pain-free. I hope it doesn't take me that long.
"First of all, I need to be healthy. I tried to fight through some stuff this year and it wasn't a lot of fun and I was in so much pain. On top of that, my first back operation, I was also in the midst of changing my swing, too. It was a tough situation to go through that.
"But I can't practice more if I can't rehab. I can't practice as much. I went most of last season [like that]. Then the last time, I played very well. It's just a matter of me getting healthy enough to go out and play.'
"There's a process. Little stuff before I can get stronger. Then I have to get explosive. Then I have to do it for a long period of time. And then playing like that for a long period of time. I don't know how many months it's going to be. But it won't be short. It'll take months of hard work.''