Tiger Woods Spinal Fusion Surgery: What Happened?

Tiger Woods spinal fusion surgery took place in April 2017

Tiger Woods spinal fusion surgery

Tiger Woods spinal fusion surgery took place in April 2017. Since then we have seen a remarkable return to form the former world number one. But what is spinal fusion surgery?

Tiger Woods Spinal Fusion Surgery

As anyone who has suffered with chronic back pain will know, doing anything can be an ordeal. This was certainly the case for Tiger Woods (opens in new tab). For years he has suffered with spasms and sciatic pain running through his legs. Standing up and sitting down were a struggle, let alone swinging a golf club. If he was going to live pain free and make a golfing come back and play in the Masters (opens in new tab) something had to be done but what is spinal fusion surgery and how did it help Tiger Woods?

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Spinal fusion surgery involves identifying the painful vertebrae in the spine and fusing them together. Essentially, the process involves bonding two painful bones into one stronger, pain-free but less mobile vertebrae. The idea is that by restricting the movement of the individual bones, you should be able to eliminate the pain.

For any sportsman the idea of restricting movement is daunting but Tiger’s options were few and far between. Having tried a host of remedies, he sought a more permanent solution to his chronic back pain and his spinal fusion surgery took place in April 2017. By this time he was struggling to walk let alone swing a golf club and painkillers had become a constant feature in his life. Returning from the spinal fusion surgery involved physical rehabilitation but also required a 28-day period in a Florida treatment centre.

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Since returning from his spinal fusion surgery we have seen the apparent back restriction has not stopped him from swinging incredibly quickly. At times he does still have stiffness in his back and yet he has shown he is more than capable of competing at the top level once again thanks to victories at the 2018 Tour Championship, 2019 ZOZO Championship and of course the 2019 Masters.

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Of late he has clearly been having some issues in terms of form and whether it is his back causing this remains to be seen. What is clear though is Tiger will defend his 2020 Masters title at Augusta soon.

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Neil Tappin
Digital Editor

In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."


Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSi2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X