Tiger Woods’ close friend Notah Begay talked to Golf Channel this week and shared some insightful information on the pain Tiger felt prior to his latest back surgery and just how much the issue was hurting his performance.
Per Begay, one of the first things Tiger was quick to notice at the PNC Championship back in December was the alarming rate in which his clubhead speed had dropped.
Woods had a PGA Tour-best clubhead speed of 129.2 mph in March 2018, but last month that clubhead speed had sunk to 113mph due to the pain he was feeling.
“I had a chance to visit with him and catch up over at the PNC Championship, but one of the things he did bring up was that he noticed that his clubhead speed was creeping down around 113 (mph), and, I’ve known this guy since he was 9 years old, and he might have been over 113 back then. I don’t think he’s ever crept this low.”
The analyst also revealed that Woods had “some concern” about having a 5th back surgery, and described the “radiating” pain which forced Tiger to go under the knife yet again:
“I talked to him just recently, within the last hour, and he mentioned that there was radiating pain back down the back part of his leg. Anybody that’s ever had disc problems like myself can realize and understand that’s just a very uncomfortable place to be in.
Any way you can alleviate the pain, in this particular case, through this procedure, is the way to go, especially if you want to try and pursue elite-level performance.”
For his comeback, Begay told viewers that Woods is back hitting balls already and will have Augusta in mind for his return. As for a blueprint for Tiger to add to his 82 PGA Tour wins, Begay believes hot putting weeks will be key.
“He’s fine. I mean, I literally 15 minutes ago exchanged texts with him, and he was hitting golf balls. It’s not like he’s laying in the bed watching reruns of Friends. He’s gotten the pain alleviated. I promise he wasn’t trying to rip his driver out there, but he’s going to let it come back, he’s going to let it heal and we all know that he’s got the event in April circled.
There’s a lot of torque, a lot of stress, and I think he’s just going to have to play a little bit more of a consistent type of tee-to-green game and then just wait for when the putter starts to warm up like we know it can.”