Tiger Woods updates on health, vows return to pro golf

Tiger Woods offered his first public update on his health after a fourth back surgery in three years in April, a spinal fusion surgery that will keep the 14-time major winner out an extended period of time.

Woods, who said at the Hero World Challenge in December that he felt pain-free for the first time in years, said the fusion surgery was a success and provided instant relief from nerve pain.

“It has been just over a month since I underwent fusion surgery on my back, and it is hard to express how much better I feel,” Woods wrote on his website. “It was instant nerve relief. I haven’t felt this good in years.

“I could no longer live with the pain I had. We tried every possible non-surgical route and nothing worked. I had good days and bad days, but the pain was usually there, and I couldn’t do much. Even lying down hurt. I had nerve pain with anything I did and was at the end of my rope. The process leading up to my decision to have surgery was exhaustive. I consulted with a specialist, and after weighing my options, that’s when I decided to go to Texas to have surgery.”

Woods last played competitively in the Dubai Desert Classic, shooting a birdie-free 77 in the first round before withdrawing ahead of the second round citing lower back spasms. Woods then skipped planned starts at the Genesis Open and The Honda Classic before making a last-ditch effort to play in the Masters, ultimately bailing, he said, because the post-shot pain was too great to face at Augusta National.

After announcing the surgery in April, Woods’ team noted the recovery time for a fusion procedure can take up to six months. Woods said he is working through rehab, and, like with his fall 2015 surgeries, he will not force a timetable to return to competition. Nonetheless, Woods underscored that is ultimately his goal.

“My surgeon and physiotherapist say the operation was successful,” wrote Woods, who also noted he can’t twist his back for another two or three months. “It’s just a matter of not screwing up and letting it fuse. I’m walking and doing my exercises, and taking my kids to and from school. All I can do is take it day by day. There’s no hurry.

“But, I want to say unequivocally, I want to play professional golf again.”

Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.