“Professional athletes are different human beings, in my opinion, than the rest of us mortals,” said McGuire, who was not involved in Woods’s treatment. “If the rest of us swung the golf club as many times as Tiger Woods did, most of us would get hurt, get injured, or have back problems. So professional athletes tend to come back fast — or, do come back faster.”
Woods has contended with unpredictable back pain over the years, and his 2020 starts yielded just one top-10 finish, a tie for ninth in January at the Farmers Insurance Open. In mid-February of 2020, he became stiff and repeatedly grimaced throughout the final two rounds of the Genesis Invitational, where he shot an 11 over par and finished last among the golfers who made the cut.
In the six majors he has played since his 2019 Masters victory, he has missed the cut three times, tied for 21st, tied for 37th and tied for 38th.
In August 2019 Woods had a fifth arthroscopic procedure done on his left knee. Woods returned three months later in Japan and claimed his 82nd career victory, tying him atop the career PGA Tour wins list with Sam Snead.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Woods had to wait until November to try to defend his Masters title. But he struggled trudging up and down the wet Georgia hills, the physical toll exacerbated by rain and limited autumn sunlight, which meant compressed tee times and little time for rest and recuperation. Woods finished tied for 38th, 19 shots behind the winner, Dustin Johnson.
“No matter how much I push and ask of this body, it just doesn’t work at times,” Woods told reporters then.
But Woods has become accustomed to making comebacks.
“The classic line I give a lot of my patients is: ‘If you really enjoy something, go for quality rather than quantity,’” McGuire said.