Tiger’s Blog: Rehab going well but is a slow process
It’s Monday of THE PLAYERS, and I’d rather be driving north on I-95 to Ponte Vedra, but unfortunately, I won’t be playing this week. It’s tough to miss any tournament, but especially one that’s so important to the players and where I’m defending.
My recovery from microdiscectomy surgery for a pinched nerve in my back is coming along, but it’s a very slow process. I’m still sore. Not from the procedure itself but the incision. I just need to get back to my day-to-day activities, and that’s it.
One reassuring thing from my medical exam is I have zero arthritic changes whatsoever. I’ve kept myself in very good shape over the years, and it has paid off. We knew going into this procedure that it really helps to be strong, especially in my glutes and my abs. I was strong in both departments, and that helps with the recovery and rehab, and you’re able to come back faster.
I made the decision to have surgery because physically I just couldn’t make a golf swing. That pretty much sums it up.
Missing my first Masters was tough. I actually watched quite a bit of it because Freddie [Couples] was in contention. As soon as his name went up on the leaderboard, I started watching what he was doing. Once he got off to that bad start Sunday, it wasn’t as much fun.
I was happy for Bubba Watson and want to congratulate him on winning his second green jacket. The golf course sets up great for a long fader who is left-handed. It sets up perfectly because it’s so much easier to cut the ball than it is to turn it over on No. 10. On No. 13, it is much easier to cut it and carry it; if you try to carry it with a draw, it’s not going to stay in the air as much as it would with a cut. Same thing with No. 14. I think that’s one of the reasons Phil [Mickelson] and Bubba have done so well there is because they both fade the ball really well for lefties.
As far as losing the Eisenhower tree on No. 17, I only saw the hole a few times during the tournament, and it did look more wide open. But your landing area is still the same. At least it is for guys with my length. I’ve hit the Eisenhower tree before, but I’ve hit bad tee shots to hit it. Guys who hit the ball as long as I do didn’t really worry about the tree. The shorter guys have to play it up the right side because they can’t carry it.
Not being able to play in the Masters for the first time wasn’t as hard for me as you might think. I’ve missed major championships before, so this was not a new experience. It helps when I’m physically unable to play the game. That’s when it’s easy for me, and I don’t have a problem watching. It’s when I’m playing and closer to getting back out there is when I start getting real antsy about watching events: ‘Can I play, can I not play?’ But when I’m physically unable to play like in 2008 after my knee surgery, it makes things so much easier.
As for my return to golf, I really don’t know. I’m doing everything I can and listening to my doctors and working on a strength program, and then we just have to see how my back is. Some people heal up in three months, some people take four months, some people take longer. I just don’t know.
I haven’t used a sand wedge yet. I’ve just done putting and chip-and-runs using the same length of motion. I haven’t really rotated yet. As far as taking a full swing, I have conference calls with my doctors every couple of weeks to see how my progress is and just kind of chart it out from there. Basically, you just follow a program. It’s tedious because it’s little rehab stuff, but you still have to do it. That’s where I think the experiences of having gone through the surgeries in the past have really helped because you have to lay the foundation down first before you can do the more arduous activities and then return to form. I’m walking and able to cycle now and started swimming last week.
It does help to rehab with Lindsey [Vonn], but her programs are much further along than mine. That does help when you’re not the only one suffering. It’s a good and bad thing that we’re both rehabbing at the same time. Her sessions are much longer and more developed. Her knee is getting stronger and it’s good to see. She hopes to be ready to compete again in December.
I’ve been with my kids a ton. It’s been great going to their soccer and T-ball games, practices and just being with them. We went to the Bahamas for spring break, which was fantastic. I’m just trying to stay active, but nothing where I’m pushing it. I’m doing a little coaching, but unfortunately, I can’t play soccer with Sam right now. Prior to the surgery, I was able to play and do some training stuff with her, but I can’t do it because I can’t cut.
I’ve worked with Charlie on hitting and fielding drills and showing him slowly what to do; I can’t do it quickly. We watch a lot of sports on TV, and we try and copy that. We have a lot of putting contests. I can’t bend down to pick up the ball out of the hole, so we sand-filled all the holes so you can still putt to a hole. He’s getting pretty good and is starting to understand speed and break. That’s not something that is easy to pick up. I have my greens running about 13 on the Stimpmeter every day, so your feel has to be a little better. When we were in the Bahamas, the greens were much slower and he almost beat me. If Sam and Charlie beat me, they’re going to earn it. That’s how Pop was with me, and I think that’s how it should be.
It’s been great to read a lot of the fan mail at the office and all the tweets and nice comments people have made to support me. It’s been amazing, just around here, how many people have had this procedure done and come up to me and said, ‘Oh my God, it’s changed my life. I haven’t been able to do anything for so many years and all of a sudden I’ve been able to live life again.’ I know exactly what they mean. I got to a point where I couldn’t do anything. That part has been eye-opening.
Tony Romo had the exact same procedure as I did. I talked to him a lot about it because he was in a lot of pain after a game against the Washington Redskins. He just couldn’t function anymore.
Once I begin swinging a club again, I’m not sure if I will have to make any changes to protect my back; that’s up to Sean Foley and me on what we do. As far as limitations, it’s a building process, just like when I came back from my knee and Achilles injuries. You start from the green and work your way back: putting, chipping, pitching, wedging, mid-irons, long irons, woods and eventually playing. That’s all a process and takes time. We have to make sure my back heals fine and I have the strength and mobility going forward.
As I’ve said several times, I hope to be back sometime this summer, but I just don’t know when. There are a lot of big tournaments coming up, and one that’s personally important to me is the Quicken Loans National. I really appreciate Quicken Loans becoming the title sponsor of my event. It means a lot to me and my foundation. Whether I’m able to play or not, I’m going to be there to support it. After Quicken, there’s Greenbrier and The Open Championship, and of the course the U.S. Open is about six weeks away. You can understand why I want to hurry up and get better. I’d also like to play in the FedExCup Playoffs and the Ryder Cup. But obviously, I’m going to have to play really well to earn points to get into the playoffs and play my way onto to the team or have to rely on a captain’s pick.
Tiger Jam 16 is coming up, May 16-17 at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. We have a great band, GRAMMY-nominated OneRepublic. They have a lot of hits and are very hot right now. It’s a fun event for everyone: all of our sponsors, donors and the people who support us. Poker Night is sold out, so that is fantastic. Once the concert kicks off and starts going, it’s nice to see my staff finally relax. They work hard to make it happen, but once it starts, it’s nice to see them have fun and enjoy it. Proceeds from the Jam support my foundation’s college-access programs.
My golf course design project in Cabo, El Cardonal at Diamante Cabo San Lucas, continues to progress well. The front nine has been grassed, as well as a few holes on the back nine. I’m looking forward to finalizing the shaping on the last few holes when I get back onsite next month. I’m thrilled with how it’s turning out, and I’ll share some photos with you from my next visit. I’m also excited about my newest design project near Houston, Bluejack National. My team and I have been working on this for quite some time, and I’m really looking forward to construction starting this summer.
Thanks again for all the get-well wishes, and that’s all for now. Take care.