Tiger Woods' Long History of Injuries and Surgeries

Tiger Woods winces with back pain, one of many injuries he's had along with multiple surgeries
Tiger Woods has had a lot of pain in his golf career, particularly in the latter half with many injuries and multiple surgeries. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Tiger Woods had his first back surgery in 2014, two more in 2015, and a fourth in 2017. And that's just the surgeries on his back. Woods has suffered a slew of injuries to other parts of his body, too, even before turning pro.

Here's a rundown of the major surgeries and injuries in Tiger Woods' golf career:

Tiger Woods' Surgeries

  • 1994: Removal of benign tumor from left knee. Woods was at Stanford at the time of this first surgery. It didn't interfere with his domination of USGA championships. He won the 1994 U.S. Amateur Championship, plus the USGA championships the preceding and following years, too. (Woods won three straight Junior Ams, 1991-93, followed by three consecutive U.S. Ams, 1994-96).
  • 2002: Removal of benign cysts from left knee.
  • April 15, 2008: Cartilage damage in left knee cleaned out through arthroscopic surgery. This took place two days after the 2008 Masters, where Woods finished second. He returned at the 2008 U.S. Open, which began June 12.
  • June 24, 2008: Reconstructive surgery to repair anterior cruciate ligament in left knee (had been playing with torn ACL since just after 2007 British Open). This surgery took place nine days after Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open, where he had also been playing with stress fractures in his leg.
  • March 31, 2014: Microdiscectomy (back surgery) to treat a pinched nerve by cleaning out a disc fragment. Took place a couple weeks after Woods played the WGC Cadillac Championship (finishing 25th). He returned on June 26 at the Quicken Loans National, where he missed the cut.
  • Sept. 16, 2015: Microdiscectomy (back surgery) to remove a disc fragment that was pinching a nerve. Took place a couple weeks after Woods' best finish of the year, 10th place at the Wyndham Championship.
  • Oct. 28, 2015: A "follow-up procedure" to his surgery of a month earlier. 
  • April 2017: On April 19 or 20 of 2017, Woods had his fourth back surgery. Woods had been suffering back spasms, sciatica and other pain since withdrawing from the Dubai Desert Classic in January. This surgery was called a "a minimally invasive Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (MIS ALIF) at L5/S1," and Woods declared himself done with golf in 2017.

More of Tiger Woods' Injury History

Left Knee and Leg

Woods has had a series of issues with his left knee going back to his college days at Stanford, with that first surgery in 1994.

In addition to the 2002 and 2008 surgeries related to the left knee, involving a torn ACL, Woods also suffered a medial collateral ligament strain in the left knee during the 2011 Masters.

In May of 2008 Woods discovered he had a doublue stress fracture of the left tibia. He played - and won - the 2008 U.S. Open despite those stress fractures and despite also having a torn ACL.

He has had numerous arthroscopic procedures on his left knee, including in August of 2019.

Achilles Tendons

Woods has had issues with both his left and right Achilles tendons. Woods suffered a torn Achilles tendon in his right leg late in 2008.

At the 2011 Masters, on the same shot (third round, 17th hole, under the Eisenhower tree) on which he suffered an MCL strain, Woods strained his left Achilles tendon.

Strains or irritations of the left Achilles also contributed to withdrawals by Woods from the 2011 Players Championship and 2012 WGC Cadillac Championship.

Back Problems

Woods has had bouts of back pain or stiffness, of varying degrees of severity, through much of his career. These issues didn't really come to the forefront as a major problem until 2014, when back spasms caused his withdrawal from the Honda Classic, and caused Woods to skip other tournaments.

The first back surgery soon followed. But Woods had to withdraw from the 2014 WGC Bridgestone Invitational, following his return, with more back spasms and general pain.

And More ...

Woods also withdrew from the 2010 Players Championship with a neck problem, later diagnosed as an inflammation of a neck joint.

He withdrew from the 2013 AT&T National due to a left elbow strain. And Woods has also received cortisone injections for inflammation in his right ankle (he's also had many treatments outside of surgery on his left knee over the years).