A history of Tiger Woods' injuries: Back surgeries and comeback during golf career

  • Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Emma Murphy

Scandals aside, Tiger Woods - one of the most famous golfers of all time - has had a run of health disasters that have set him back in his career.

The golf star now faces a hard recovery after a car crash on Tuesday, which left him needing surgery to his right leg just weeks before the Masters.

A statement on Woods’ Twitter account said the golfer had suffered multiple “open fractures” to his lower right leg, with a rod placed in his tibia and screws and pins in his ankle.

But the golfer is lucky to be alive, authorities said. He appears to be on track to survive after being pried from his SUV following the crash at around 7am (PST) in the Los Angeles area.

No other cars were involved in the crash.

Here is a brief history of Woods' career and injuries:

Woods' golf career took off after after he won the third straight US Amateur and turned professional in August 1996. He completed the "Tiger Slam" in 2001, becoming the only player to hold all four professional majors at the same time.

  • 2008 - Knee and leg injuries

His first setback came in June 2008, when he won the US Open but with shredded knee ligaments and two stress fractures in his left leg. He was out for eight months.

  • 2009 - Scandal

A year later in November 2009, after Woods crashes his SUV into a tree and a fire hydrant outside his Windemere Florida home, his personal life unraveled with reports of multiple extramarital affairs. As a result, he lost major sponsorship endorsements.

He spent 45 days in a clinic and did not return to golf until the 2010 Masters.

His first victory after the scandal came in March 2012, when he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational for his first PGA Tour.

Tiger Woods and first wife (then-girlfriend) Elin Nordegren in 2003. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA
  • 2014 - First back surgery

His third setback came in April 2014 when he had back surgery a week before the Masters and had to miss the tournament at Augusta National for the first time. Woods also missed the PGA Championship in August that year and the Ryder Cup, saying he will take the rest of the year off to get healthy.

Woods returned for the Phoenix Open in February 2015 but missed the cut. A week later at Torrey Pines, he withdrew after 11 holes. He then announced he will take time off to work on his game, saying that "my play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf".

He returned to the Masters in April and then the Memorial in June, but with no major successes. In August, he missed the cut in his third straight major at the PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods insisted he was on the right track despite slumping to his worst ever score in the US Open at Chambers Bay. Credit: PA

  • 2015 - More back surgeries

Still blighted with back issues, Woods has a second back surgery in September 2015 and then has a third procedure on his back a month later.

In a press conference in December, Woods said of his future: “So where is the light at the end of the tunnel? I don’t know.”

  • 2017 - Fourth back surgery

In January 2017, Woods makes his first PGA Tour start since 2015 and misses the cut at Torrey Pines.

In April he has his fourth back surgery to fuse his lower back.

In May, he is arrested after police find him asleep behind the wheel of his car with the engine running. He attributes it to a bad combination of pain medication. In October, he pleads guilty to reckless driving.

  • 2019 - Comeback after four back surgeries

Woods returned to competition from December 2017. But it is only in April 2019 that he makes his great comeback by winning the Masters for his fifth green jacket and 15th major title, his first in 11 years.

Tiger Woods came through an eventful final few days to win the Masters. Credit: AP

  • 2020 - fifth back surgery

In December 2020, Woods has a fifth back surgery, a microdiscectomy.