More than a month after undergoing microdiscectomy surgery for the second time, Tiger Woods admitted Tuesday that he faces a "long and tedious rehab" to get back into competitive golf shape.
Woods spoke at a news conference for the Bridgestone America's Golf Cup in Mexico, an event he had planned to play with Matt Kuchar. But after a routine doctor's visit uncovered a disc fragment pinching a nerve in his back, the 39-year-old opted for surgery on Sept. 16.
It was the same procedure he had in March 2014, one that sidelined him for 11 weeks. While the former came during the heart of golf season, the timing of this procedure allows Woods to make a more deliberate recovery this winter.
"I feel good, I'm just stiff. That's the way it is after surgery. I haven't been allowed to do pretty much anything," Woods said. "I'll start rehab soon, but again it's a long and tedious rehab. Last time it took me a very long time to come back.
"Some players on Tour, they've had it done and it has taken them over a year to be pain-free. I hope it doesn't take that long for me to be pain-free, but it's a process."
Woods suffered through the worst season of his professional career this year, failing to notch a top-10 finish until the Wyndham Championship in August. His T-10 in Greensboro appeared to be signal that he had turned a corner, but it was not enough to qualify him for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. It was his final start of the year.
As he eyes another comeback from injury, Woods trotted out one of his preferred buzzwords to explain the recovery path that lies ahead.
"I have to go through the little stuff to get stronger, then I have to get explosive," Woods said. "Then I have to be able to have the explosive endurance to be able to practice for long periods of time, and eventually play for long periods of time."
When he first announced his surgery, Woods said he was "encouraged" about returning "early in 2016." While he offered no revised estimate on when he might be back inside the ropes, Woods made it clear in Mexico that his overall health remains a top priority.
"I'm not that far removed from winning, but first of all I need to be healthy. I tried to play through some stuff this year and it just wasn't a lot of fun playing through that much pain," he said. "I know the pattern is there. It's just a matter of me getting healthy enough to where I can get out there and play. Trust me, I miss being out there. I miss seeing the guys."