Tiger Woods announced Wednesday that he has undergone another surgery on the right leg that was severely injured in his 2021 car accident.
Woods’ latest procedure was a fusion of the subtalar joint “to address his post-traumatic arthritis from his previous talus fracture,” according to a statement released on Woods’ Twitter account. The subtalar joint is located just below the ankle joint, between the talus bone and heel bone, according to footcaremd.org.
No timetable was given for Woods’ return. The surgery was performed by Dr. Martin O’Malley at HSS Sports Medicine in New York City. The statement said O’Malley declared the surgery a success.
Woods was most recently seen at the Masters, where he had to withdraw in the midst of the third round because of plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes. Videos posted to social media showed Woods limping badly when play was suspended at Augusta National due to inclement weather. Woods had 28 holes remaining in the tournament when the third round was called for the day.
“I can’t imagine him trying to go 27-plus holes (in one day) around here,” his caddie, Joe LaCava, told the New York Post before the tournament. LaCava also described Woods as “pretty banged up.”
“He still has the power, the swing speed, the shots and the length to contend,” LaCava added. “The injury is devastating, but if he could take a cart he could contend tomorrow.”
Woods has competed in five tournaments since his car crash in Southern California. He has made the cut in four of those starts but has completed 72 holes just twice. He played four rounds in his surprise return to golf at last year’s Masters Tournament and at this year’s Genesis Invitational. He withdrew from the 2022 PGA Championship, missed the cut at The Open at St. Andrews and also withdrew from this year’s Masters. Jason Day said at Augusta National that Woods had to withdraw from last year’s PGA Championship because “a screw went through the skin.” Woods shot a second-round 69 at Southern Hills to make the cut but then fired a 79 in the third round before withdrawing.
“He looked like he was laboring pretty hard yesterday,” Day said on the final day of this year’s Masters. “It was obviously difficult to watch because he had to come back out and then play through all (the rain and cold Saturday) morning, and then he had to take a little bit of a break and come back out and play again. It didn’t look like, it wasn’t the perfect conditions for him to be able to at least get through the round. It’s disappointing, but that’s just kind of, I think, where we’re at with how his body is right now.”
Plantar fasciitis also forced Woods to withdraw from his Hero World Challenge in December, which he intended to play until the pain in his foot made it impossible.
Woods impressed in his 2023 debut at Riviera, though, opening with a 69 and shooting 67 in the third round. He said in his pre-tournament press conference at Augusta National that his mobility was “not where I would like it” but said his memories at the Masters, which he has won five times, inspired him to play. He admitted in that news conference that he did not know how many more appearances at Augusta National were in his future. Woods had to have major surgery on his right leg after his 2021 car accident. The upper and lower portions of his tibia and fibula were broken in multiple places and his ankle bones also suffered damage.
“I’m very lucky to have this leg,” Woods said at this year’s Masters. “It’s mine. Yes, it has been altered and there’s some hardware in there, but it’s still mine. It has been tough and will always be tough. The ability and endurance of what my leg will do going forward will never be the same. I understand that.
“That’s why I can’t prepare and play as many tournaments as I like, but that’s my future, and that’s okay. I’m okay with that.”