After undergoing a second back surgery in two months, Tiger Woods has more to worry about than getting back to the PGA Tour.
As friend and Nike stablemate Rory McIlroy said Saturday, Woods' primary concern is simply getting around comfortably.
"I think any time you touch your back, it is tough," McIlroy said, according to Irish Golf Desk. "It looks like it is a long road to recovery for him, and I just hope he gets better, not just to play golf but just for everyday life and being able to do everyday things more than anything else."
On Wednesday, Woods underwent a follow-up procedure to relieve discomfort stemming from a second microdiscectomy surgery on Sept. 16. That surgery, performed in Utah, followed an initial microdiscectomy performed in March 2014.
"That's his third back surgery in just over a year, and like someone once said, the best way to avoid your fifth back surgery is not to do the first one," McIlroy said. "But it's a procedure he needed, he needed it. I just hope he gets better."
Woods returned from his first microdiscectomy procedure just three months later, where athletes who have undergone a similar procedure have taken anywhere from 9-12 months to return healthy. When he came back at his Quicken Loans National in June 2014, Woods admitted he was doing so prematurely in an effort to please the tournament title sponsor and biennial host Congressional Country Club. The 14-time major champion also said that the back trouble which led to the initial surgery forced him to consider his career mortality, with the pain limiting his range of motion to the point that it was difficult to get out of bed in the morning.
Woods played a modest schedule in 2015, logging his only top-10 finish of the year in his final start of the season, and his first in almost two years, at the Wyndham Championship. That week, Woods complained of pain that he believed was caused by his hip. Weeks after the season ended, Woods announced additional disc trouble caused the pain and necessitated a second microdiscectomy.
Now, after a third back surgery in less than two years, Woods is uncertain when he'll be able to return to competitive golf. Last week, Woods said at the America's Golf Cup in Mexico, an event he had intended to play before undergoing the second microdiscectomy, that his recovery would be "long and tedious." There's no indication if this follow-up procedure will extend that timeline further.
Regardless of how long it takes Woods to recovery, McIlroy is confident he'll figure out a way to get back to healthy.
"He has that mindset that he can overcome things, and he has overcome things before," McIlroy said. "But as I said, I think it will be a long road ahead."