Playing in the Ryder Cup will be the culmination of an amazing comeback season for Tiger Woods, one the 14-time major champion feared might never happen after back surgery.
The 42-year-old American has shown flashes of the form that made him golf’s dominant player in younger days in his first campaign after spinal fusion surgery, a last-gasp operation to try and extend his legendary career.
“It was a last-ditch effort; i tried everything else because fusion is the last-ditch effort and nothing beyond that. So didn’t know what my playing career would be like. This is all uncharted territory,” Woods said.
So far, Woods’ performances are steadily improving and the medical charts are showing no back issues after years of nagging problems.
Woods has hit drives longer than his youthful days, led the British Open in the final round in July, finished second in last month’s PGA Championship and fired a 62 earlier this month, his lowest US PGA opening round since the 1999 Byron Nelson Classic.
And the former world number one achieved his goal of securing a Ryder Cup captain’s pick from Jim Furyk, who pulled him from a planned assistant captain’s role after seeing the quality of his game.
“Deep down, I wanted to make the team. I really wanted to play on it, i had not started playing golf really yet, but still, it was a goal at the end of the season to make this team,” Woods said.
Woods went into spinal fusion fearing his chronic back pain might linger for life.
“I had resigned (myself) to it because I had lived in a pretty difficult situation for a while. I just wanted the pain to go away, it was painful sitting, laying, moving, anything.
It was just constant pain in my back and down my leg,” Woods said.
Now Woods, who had 79 career PGA titles, hasn’t given up his quest to reach the record 18 major wins of Jack Nicklaus or Sam Snead’s all-time PGA mark of 82.
“In order to get to Jack’s record, I have to pass Snead’s record. Just simple math,” Woods said. “And I want to make that happen. I’m close. I have been close to winning tournaments this year. I think if I keep giving myself opportunities, I’ll get the job done.
Woods, whose first major title came at the 1997 Masters, has seen huge support from crowds at events; his amazing shotmaking at an older age sparking roars and cheers rivaling those of his youth.—Agencies