Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tiger Woods Making Another Mistake By Coming Back Too Soon?

It's been almost three months since he played a tournament, and Tiger Woods can't wait any longer.  He has announced his intention to play in next week's Bridgestone Invitational Tournament and, if all goes well there, he plans to play in the final major of the golf year, the PGA Championship starting August 11.

Is this a move of a man healthy and ready to play golf, or does he simply miss the game so much that he's risking further injury by going out too soon?

Woods has been out of action this year due to a series of  lower left leg injuries he's suffered in the Spring.  The latest injury was a medial collateral ligament sprain in his left knee along with a strain of his left achilles tendon. Both injuries were described as "minor" by Woods, but these injuries indicate that his swing is still bothering his knee in the same manner it has over the past several years.  Until that swing is properly fixed bio-mechanically, he leaves himself open for chronic injury.

Tiger Woods Injures His Left Knee Making This Difficult Shot
On the 17th Hole Of The Third Round At the Masters
Photo: Chris O'Meara/AP
In all, Woods has had a total of four surgeries on his left knee, and corresponding on/off problems with that particular achilles tendon.  Many have blamed his swing mechanics, which worked well for him earlier in his career, as the main cause behind his physical issues.

Here's an excellent Sport Science video which explains why Tiger's power is the cause of his injuries.  They compare the forces on his body to those of baseball pitchers and football running backs.

Tiger has made many changes to his game over the years, changing swing mechanics and swing coaches.  It's hard to know for sure, considering Tiger's penchant for privacy, but it's conceivable that he's changed his swing to accommodate the chronic, growing pain from his series of knee injuries.

Until Tiger is able to execute a swing that lessens the torque/pressure on his left knee, he will continue to get these nagging injuries.  One day, they  will result in a total knee replacement and he'll probably find a great deal of pain relief with that.

However, unless he feels totally healed at this point, playing tournaments at this time might simply aggravate the tissues that are constantly being inflamed.  I can see how his ego and his desire to win overrides his short-term concerns for his left leg, but one wonders if he would simply take the rest of the year off and slowly work into a less-offensive swing he would have a much better 2012.

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