With his game ailing, Tiger Woods announced he underwent a second microdiscectomy surgery on his back.
“This is certainly disappointing, but I’m a fighter,” Woods said. “I’ve been told I can make a full recovery, and I have no doubt that I will.”
Woods made the announcement on his website — www.tigerwoods.com — and reported the microsurgical procedure — intended to relieve pain from a pinched nerve — was performed late Wednesday in Park City, Utah, by neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Rich. Woods pulled out of three events he planned to play this year and isn’t expected to return to the tour until January at the earliest.
Dr. Rich, who performed the initial operation in March 2014, called it “a complete success.” Woods was discharged Thursday.
The 14-time major champion hasn’t won one of golf’s four biggest events since the 2008 U.S. Open. Woods also has won more than 100 events worldwide, but none since the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Woods canceled planned appearances in the Frys.com Open at Silverado in California and the Bridgestone America’s Golf Cup in Mexico City next month and his own Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in early December.
“I’d like to send my regrets to Frys and all those associated with the America’s Golf Cup … I will be attending my foundation-hosted Hero World Challenge but won’t be able to play,” Woods said.
After experiencing lingering discomfort in his back and hip, Woods elected to have surgery quickly in hopes of returning to the PGA Tour early in 2016, or as soon as possible. He is scheduled to begin rehabbing within a week.
“I appreciate the fans’ concern and support,” he said. “This is unfortunate, but these things happen. I’ve been injured before and played again. It won’t be any different this time.”
In his last tournament, Woods had a season-best 10th-place tie late last month in the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina. He played only 11 events this season, missing four cuts and withdrawing once, and has dropped to 283rd in the world ranking.
As Jason Day’s long eagle putt at the last hole rolled down the hill and toward the hole, every revolution of the ball only added to the sense of inevitability.
When it disappeared into the cup for an 8-under 63, a PGA Tour record-tying 36-hole score of 18 under and a five-shot lead at the BMW Championship at Lake Forest, Illinois, Day pumped his fist as playing partners Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler broke into widening grins and then applause.
Their expressions said it all about golf’s man of the moment: Day is making everything that matters.
“I feel like I should be paying to come watch some of this,” said Spieth, tied for fifth at 11 under. “It was special.”
Special enough, anyway, that Day’s closest pursuers, rookie Daniel Berger and Brendon Todd, shot 64 and 63, respectively, on a rain-softened Conway Farms layout and still couldn’t make up any ground. Yet Day’s day could have been more special still.
After heavy rain forced a suspension of the opening round, Day returned to Conway Farms early Friday needing to hole a 44-yard wedge shot for an eagle that would have given him a 59 and tied another tour record. Instead, he hit a low pitch that skidded to a stop 10 feet from the hole and narrowly missed and settled for a 61.
“I came in this morning and obviously didn’t shoot 59 and felt like everyone was disappointed in me,” Day chuckled.
He was kidding, but just barely. Day has won three times — including his first major, the PGA Championship — and is an aggregate 97 under in tournament play since a narrow miss at the British Open in late July.
“I don’t know how else to explain the way I’ve been playing. I feel very free, like there’s no stress. There’s obviously stress,” Day added a moment later, “but I’m enjoying it.”
After shooting 32 on the front nine to start the second round, the Aussie strung together four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back, then capped it with an 43-foot putt for eagle at No. 18. But he was far from the only golfer on a roll.
With little wind and receptive greens and fairways, the field averaged 3-under 68 and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy said even that seemed generous.
Citing the conditions, the length of Conway Farms (it played at 6,892 yards Friday) and the number of par-4 holes reachable with a driver, “the par for us out here should be 67 or 66,” added McIlroy, who shot 65 and called it only “a decent score.”
Berger, too, might have done better if not for a lost ball at No. 14, which led to his only bogey of the day.
“We had plenty of people definitely helping us look, probably 25 people” Berger said. “At one point, I offered the crowd $500 if they could find. Seriously, I did.
“We probably found 20 balls,” he added ruefully.
Like Day and Spieth and three other players, Todd made eagle at the 556-yard, par-5 18th. Todd holed a wedge from 81 yards, but didn’t stick around long to celebrate. His wife flew in earlier in the day, but because Todd forgot to add her name to the reservation, she wound up watching the round in the hotel bar.
“She told me ‘good playing,’ so I assume she caught a little bit,” he said. “They don’t like to show me on TV, but I think they probably showed that one on 18.”
Day’s finish there definitely made it onto the screen. Considering the way he’s playing, no one in the golf world dares take their eyes off him.
Spain’s Carlota Ciganda hit an eagle to level her match as Europe led the United States 4-2 on the opening day of the Solheim Cup at St. Leon-Rot, Germany.
Ciganda holed a nine iron from 135 yards to win the 17th hole as she and Melissa Reid of England came from 2 down to draw level with Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson with one hole left before play was suspended due to bad light.
“I hit it really good and I’m so happy to help the team. There’s still one hole to play so there is nothing yet but I hope we can add a point,” Ciganda said.
Kerr and Thompson had looked to boost the Americans on a difficult afternoon in the best-ball fourball series. Reid hit two birdies in succession to level, only for the American duo to respond with a birdie each before Ciganda struck her eagle.
“They fought on the back nine to get a few holes going their way,” Thompson said. “But we’ll come back tomorrow early to finish our last hole. We’re pumped, we’re going to be ready.”
German pair Sandra Gal and Caroline Masson were 1 up through 15 holes against Gerina Piller and Brittany Lang in the other uncompleted match at the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club in Germany.