Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 2, 2023

Tiger Woods needs rest and privacy, not another championship

By CYNTHIA HU | March 12, 2021



Tiger Woods has nothing left to prove in golf, to us or himself.

It is the job of the media to stir up controversy, make assumptions or pressure athletes for answers about their future plans, but at least in the case of Tiger Woods — they should stop.

For the past 30 years, Woods has shown the world what the human body can accomplish. After undergoing eye surgery in 1999, Woods went on to win six consecutive championships, including the U.S. Open. Then between the years of 2003 to 2004, he won six more Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) Tour events. In 2007 he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and strained his Achilles tendon but still went on to win the U.S. Open. Similarly, in 2008, after undergoing a serious knee operation, he won the U.S. Open again, essentially playing on only one leg.

As soon as his leg problems seemed to go away, he began experiencing back problems. By 2017 he had four different surgeries to treat his back pain, all of which seemed to stem from a pinched nerve. Then came his famous 2019 Masters victory.

The reason why the 2019 Masters was so insane was that he had not won one in 14 years, leading many to believe he had passed his prime. During the weeks of the 2019 Masters, Woods said multiple times that he did not expect to be back to where he was before, mostly due to the anterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery he underwent two years prior. In fact, golf was the last thing on his mind. All he wanted to do was to be a good dad to his two sons.

It looked like things were heading in the right direction for Woods. He was getting to spend quality time with his family while sweeping the leaderboards on the golf course. Then tragedy struck. After a major single-car accident on Feb. 23, Woods was transported to the Harbor-University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center where he was hospitalized and underwent surgery for his various orthopedic injuries.

“Comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones were stabilized by inserting a rod into the tibia,” said Dr. Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer and interim CEO at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. “Additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilized with a combination of screws and pins. Trauma to the muscle and soft-tissue of the leg required surgical release of the covering of the muscles to relieve pressure due to swelling.”

In a press conference, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva noted that Woods is “very fortunate to come out of this alive.” So the best thing people can do now is to wish him well and hope he has a speedy recovery. Unfortunately, not everyone shares this opinion.

Through this uncertain time, the media have taken it upon themselves to speculate about whether or not Woods will be able to bounce back from his injury and win another championship. 

As pro-golfer and friend of Woods Rory McIlroy said, “He’s not Superman. He’s a human being at the end of the day, and he’s already been through so much.”

Everyone should be grateful that Woods survived the crash and is responding well to medical staff — that his kids haven’t lost their dad. That’s the most important thing. Golf is so far out of the equation right now, and it’s honestly disrespectful to continue pushing that narrative while he and his family are going through so much pain.

Whether or not Woods can be the next athlete to make a groundbreaking comeback is not important. Instead of focusing on training for the next tournament, he needs to focus on himself and his family, which also seems to be his main priority.

“It was about having my standard of life,” Woods said years ago following multiple back surgeries. "Forget golf. Can I actually participate in my kids’ lives again? That was the main goal.”

It is completely fair to wonder internally if Woods will ever win another major title or break another record. I’m sure he will try; it’s what the greatest athletes do. They always strive to push the boundaries of the sport. Hopefully, one day, he returns to the golf course — after he’s healthy and ready to return to the game. But if this is truly the end to Woods’ competitive golfing career, we all have so many moments to remember and fall back on.

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