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Tiger Woods Has Another Fusion Surgery, This Time To His Ankle, And He's Unlikely To Play The Rest Of The Majors This Year

Ross Kinnaird. Getty Images.

Tiger Woods looked in significant pain before withdrawing from the Masters earlier this month. In (probably) related news, Woods announced he underwent a "subtalar fusion" surgery on Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery Sports Medicine Institute in NYC. 

The surgery addressed "his post-traumatic arthritis from his previous talus fracture." From my non-doctoral understanding, the talus refers to the ankle, so he had an ankle fusion surgery. That's in addition to the spinal fusion surgery he underwent in April 2017. Woods came back from that fusion to win three PGA Tour events, including the 2019 Masters, before getting into a traumatic single-car accident outside Los Angeles in February 2021. 

By all accounts, this is a serious surgery. Woods has had plenty of little operations to insert and remove hardware in his right leg since the accident, but he's kept those mostly under wraps. For he and his team to go public with this suggests it's going to be a length recovery period, and it's highly doubtful we see Woods at the PGA Championship, which begins in less than a month. The U.S. Open at LACC, which begins June 15, also seems to be very much in jeopardy.

Here's what the Cleveland Clinic has to say about the recovery time: "It will be about six to 12 weeks before you can put weight on your ankle. When you're allowed to walk you'll have to wear a boot or cast that protects your ankle.

Woods has played in five events since the accident, all against elite fields, and has made the cut four times. But he has completed 72 holes just once, withdrawing from both the 2022 PGA Championship and this year's Masters. He has failed to put himself into contention and has spoken in depth about how limiting his leg injury has been—it's not just that he can't swing the way he used to; he can't put in the long hours of practice necessary to compete at the highest level. 

Woods has said that he still has the speed and the shots to win PGA Tour events, but he can't be sure his leg will hold up walking 72 holes. He has maintained that he would never use a cart during PGA Tour competition, as he views walking the course as part of the game's challenge, and he's the last person to take a competitive shortcut. He would be eligible for a golf cart on the PGA Tour Champions, which he'll be eligible for when he turns 50. 

"The injury is devastating," Woods' caddie, Joe LaCava, told the New York Post before the Masters. "But if he could take a cart he could content tomorrow."