Tiger Woods had surgery on his right ankle on Wednesday to take care of post-traumatic arthritis caused by significant injuries sustained in his car crash in February 2021.
Dr. Martin O’Malley at HSS Sports Medicine Institute in New York performed a subtalar fusion on Woods’ ankle and the surgery was deemed successful. Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent, told the Associated Press that Woods is “resting now and will start the recovery process” at home in Jupitar, Florida. With regards to when Woods can return to playing golf, Steinberg also noted that there is “no timetable for on this.. The first goal is to recover and lead a much more enjoyable day-to-day life.”
The main reason for the fusion is for pain relief. Screws are placed across the joint for stability with the goal for the two bones to grow together so there is zero motion. While that restricts motion, it also promotes pain relief.
The healing process for the fusion is generally six weeks of non-weight-bearing and several weeks of protective weight bearing. In time, a shoe will be worn with orthotics, then the challenge to actually return to competitive play.
Woods was forced to withdraw from the Masters before the third round resumed on Sunday following a weather delay. Woods noted that his plantar fasciitis flared up in his right foot. He was noticeably hobbling over the first eight holes of the third round played in heavy rain. At the time of the withdrawal, Woods had the worst score of any of the players who made the cut.
Woods also withdrew from the PGA Championship last May after recording a 79 in the third round at Southern Hills Country Club. He indicated that he wanted to try to play in the four major championships moving forward. With the timing of the surgery and the recovery time, Woods will likely not tee it up again professionally in 2023.
When Woods suffered serious injuries to his right leg, foot and ankle in the 2021 wreck that saw his SUV rolled over outside Los Angeles, surgeons nearly had to amputate his leg. Woods made a dramatic return to golf at the 2022 Masters after nearly a year-and-a-half layoff. His shot +12 over the last two days but playing in all four rounds was an incredible achievement given the circumstances.
With the latest surgery, no one knows when Woods will return and how competitive he will be upon his return. One thing is certain, he will not return if he doesn’t feel he has a chance to compete late on Sunday for a victory.
Woods is tied with Sam Snead for most wins in PGA Tour history with 82. He is second to Jack Nicklaus in professional major titles with 15. With his current condition and at the age of 47, it’s unlikely at this point the Woods will win again, let alone the three major titles to catch Nicklaus.
What isn’t out of the question is that Woods again recovers enough to compete in more PGA Tour events down the road.
While there’s no timetable for Tiger Woods’ return following ankle surgery, other golfers are facing their own challenges, like Rory McIlroy, who is struggling as the PGA Championship awaits.