Tigers reconstructed knee may be better than par

By David AllenFebruary 23, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007- WGC-AccentureWhat will a healthy knee do for Tiger Woods game? And what will it mean for his competition? These are just a few of the questions we may get answers to this week at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, Tigers first event back since he underwent ACL reconstruction surgery on his left knee eight months ago.
The last time we saw Tiger on the course, he was pulling his best Willis Reed impersonation, grimacing and limping his way to a dramatic 19-hole Monday playoff win over Rocco Mediate at the U.S. Open. Soon afterward Woods, who had a double stress fracture in his left shin in addition to a torn ACL he suffered nearly a year earlier running at his home in Orlando, had the aforementioned surgery. Woods originally opted against the surgery and played with the ACL tear for eight months, winning nine of his last 12 starts on the PGA Tour.
Tigers win at Torrey Pines came after a two-month layoff following arthroscopic surgery on the same knee, begging the question: If Woods can win a U.S. Open championship on essentially one leg, what can he do with two healthy legs?
We may find out this week in Arizona.
Provided the range of motion in his knee is full and the stability is good, and theres no reason to think it wont be, than he should be better than ever, said Dr. David Menche, MD, Director of Metro Sports Med in New York and a consultant to GolfersMD.com. The normal ACL rehab is six months, and it has been eight months. Hes well within a reasonable time frame for a total recovery.
The ACL reconstruction should give Tiger a little peace of mind, too, according to Vijay Vad, MD, a sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and an advisor to GolfersMD.com. With an ACL deficient knee, theres a greater risk of developing stress fractures, which Tiger had, and of suffering a Meniscus tear. The surgery should prevent the stress fractures from recurring and may decrease his chances of developing early arthritis. He shouldnt have any pain in the knee now, provided the stress fractures are all healed and they should be, Vad said.
The surgery will also re-stabilize the knee, so theres less buckling or moving around of the knee joint. The pitfalls of the surgery for any golfer are that it can impair your overall balance, or proprioception, which is critical to making an efficient swing, and cause you to lose the golf-specific conditioning you had developed previously in the knee. For a right-handed golfer such as Woods, the left leg is used as a post, or brace, for the body to rotate around. There are tremendous forces being placed on the knee during the acceleration phase of the downswing and deceleration phase after impact. The muscles around the knee must be conditioned to handle these forces.
There are two things to watch for this week, said Vad. If we see that Tiger has lost a little distance on his tee shots, it could be that the knee is not sport-specific conditioned yet. If he struggles with his accuracy, its more likely that his balance hasnt been fully restored yet.
One thing Tiger has in his favor is that hes a superbly conditioned athlete. No golfer works harder and is more equipped to comeback from an eight-month layoff and win.
The fitter you are going into this surgery, the better you are coming out, said Vad. Its quite possible Tigers knee will be better than ever before.

Note: Tiger Woods' return can be seen live on Golf Channel Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET.
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  • Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

    The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

    Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

    What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

    Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

    Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

    Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

    Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

    Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

    He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

    Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

    Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

    Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

    Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

    "I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

    The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

    Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

    "I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

    McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

    By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

    When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

    Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

    Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

    While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

    Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.