Over the weekend Tiger Woods, the greatest golfer of his generation, returned to play in an official tournament, and not just any one: at the Masters in Augusta, in the United States, one of the most prestigious and demanding courses in professional golf, one of the four so-called major of the season.
Woods returned just over a year after the serious car accident that had kept him in a hospital bed for over three months, during which he risked having his right leg amputated. The news is that he managed to finish the tournament by playing all 72 holes in the four rounds, which is far from obvious for someone in his physical condition, already tested by a long series of debilitating injuries.
Woods started the tournament incredibly well, amid public enthusiasm for some of his old-fashioned hits. He then concluded with an understandable drop in form and a forty-seventh place finish. “There is no way to describe what happened: to get here and be able to play in all four rounds considering where I was just over a year ago and what my prospects were at that time,” he said. at the end of the tournament.
– The Masters (@TheMasters) April 7, 2022
After an incredibly precocious career, which began in 1997 with the victory of the Augusta Masters at the age of 21 and continued with another fourteen successes in major, Woods’ last decade was largely marked by great difficulties. Between increasingly persistent physical problems, private events that in 2009 had pushed him to retire and finally arrest for drunk driving in 2017, the latest accident seemed so serious that it could definitively end his career.
From the accident in California last February – of which he was the only one involved – he had emerged with an open fracture of the tibia and fibula of his right leg, for which he had undergone several surgeries, the application of plates and screws to the injured parts and a long rehabilitation. The right leg was exactly the one on which Woods used to give himself strength in the blows in the game, and for this reason it was thought that his return would be difficult, even considering the many physical problems that had hindered him in the past.
As in the case of other such precocious and dominant sportsmen, the style of play with which he had become famous had in fact contributed over the years to the onset of injuries in the parts most subject to stress. For years Woods had generated the force to be imparted to the blows by pressing the ground with his feet, in order to receive a counter thrust that went up along the right leg and, passing through the pelvis, back and arms – the so-called kinetic chain – was discharged on the ball on impact with the club.
– The Masters (@TheMasters) April 9, 2022
From the 1990s onwards, Woods began to have problems in all the parts of the body most used in these movements. For years, however, he continued to win at a pace never seen before, until about ten years ago, when the back pains, the most problematic ones, became more and more insistent, so much so that he collapsed to the ground after the blows and forced him several times to withdraw. Since then, back pain, mainly caused by pinched nerves, has required five surgeries, the last of which last year.
At 46 and after all this, Woods had turned up at the Augusta Masters to win the traditional green jacket, like He said in the days leading up to the tournament, probably to look for some more motivation. He had also talked about his condition: «In most sports, if you don’t feel very well you have a teammate to pass it to, maybe only once a week. Here we have four days in a row and no one will take care of the commitment, besides me ».
In the four days of the race Woods recovered by taking treatments and ice baths, “basically I froze to death,” he told the New York Times. He moved from one hole to the next limping, stopping to stretch his muscles and trying to distribute the force more evenly, as seen in some of his “strangled” strokes. He finished with one of his worst career results, but this time no one noticed. After the last shot to the cheers of the crowd – as with every previous hole of his – he said that he will return to play in July in one of his favorite tournaments, the Open Championship in Scotland.
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