Golf: Tiger on crutches
BETHESDA, Md. ó Tiger Woods does not know when he can play golf again, but he said Monday his rebuilt left knee has been sore his entire PGA Tour career and he looks forward to playing on two good legs.
“My left knee has been sore for 10 to 12 years,” Woods said during a conference call for his AT&T National tournament, his first public comments since reconstructive surgery last Tuesday. “It will be nice to finally have a healthy leg. The doctors have assured me that my long-term health will be a hell of a lot better than it’s been over the last decade. I’m really looking forward to that.”
Woods said doctors in Utah used a tendon from his right hamstring to rebuild the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, which he said had always been weak and finally snapped while jogging on a golf course last July.
He is in a brace and will be on crutches for three weeks to keep weight off his knee.
Woods said he most likely would not be able to attend the AT&T National, which starts Thursday at Congressional, because there was swelling on the flight home to Florida after surgery and doctors have advised him to avoid planes.
“But who knows?” he added. “I don’t really listen to doctors all that well, anyway.”
Woods apparently wasn’t listening in May when X-rays revealed a double stress fracture in his left tibia as he was getting back in shape from arthroscopic surgery to clean out cartilage in his troublesome left knee after the Masters.
In a story told by swing coach Hank Haney, doctors said the best treatment was for Woods to spend three weeks on crutches, followed by three weeks of rest. Haney said Woods looked at the doctor and said, “I’m playing the U.S. Open, and I’m going to win.”
Woods said he knew the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines would be his last tournament of the year no matter what happened.
“I really didn’t practice a whole lot going into the Open, and I couldn’t play more than nine holes in preparation for it,” he said. “After dealing with that, I decided to make the U.S. Open my last event for the season, no matter how it turned out. Whether I missed the cut or if I ended up winning the tournament, it was going to be my last event.”
He won in spectacular fashion, making a 12-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff with Rocco Mediate, then winning on the 19th hole of a playoff. That gave Woods his 14th career major, and five victories in seven starts worldwide this year.
Woods said he had to use crutches for three weeks, followed by gradually putting weight on his knee, then flexing it.
“As far as longterm, I really don’t know,” he said in a conference call that lasted just over 20 minutes. “We have to see how this thing heals. Everyone heals at a different rate. Some people are back to playing sports in six months, some are nine, some are 12. So to be honest with you, no one really knows until we start the rehab process.”