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Tiger: Why a knee replacement is out (source: Golf365)

By Neville Leck Last updated: 27th July 2011

Fred FunkFred Funk

Reports are circulating that Tiger Woods will make his return to competitive golf in next week’s WGC-Bridgestome Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.

This after being sidelined with left knee and Achilles heel injuries since pulling out of the PGA Tour‘s Players Championship halfway through the first round on May 12.

Woods has been pretty secretive about the type of treatment he’s been undergoing in the 10 weeks that have elapsed since then, but Fred Funk is certain that knee replacement surgery would not have been part of it – nor will be in the future

The American veteran, who has been in England playing in the British Senior Open, was recently the recipient of knee-replacement surgery himself and knows a lot about the subject.

And he says that while the replacement of his right knee has been highly successful, as evidenced by his solid performance last week when there was little, if any, sign of a limp, replacing the left knee is another matter altogether.

“Having the right knee replaced is not too much of a problem. But the left knee is a different matter. An artificial joint would not cope with the twisting and turning,” the Express,co.uk reported Funk as saying on Monday.

In short, unless his doctors have performed miracles on a knee that has already undergone surgery of one kind or another on four separate occasions during the past half dozen years, Tiger’s return next week, could be a gamble.

For the big question now is that without a knee-replacement, will a patched-up left knee ever be able to stand up sufficiently well enough to take him back to the top of his game.

Certainly it could be a critical test that could well determine his future and in this respect, his still large support base that includes many of the world’s best golfers, will be rooting for him, hoping that a successful cure has, in fact, been found for an injury that has hounded him for too long now.

I for one await next week with great interest, and a little trepidation for if he does tee off in one of his favourite events, it may well be a pointer to where the 21st Century’s greatest golfer will be going from here.

And with Steve Williams now off his pay role and no longer receiving a reported yearly salary of $1 million, there could also be a lot of interest in finding out just who will be carrying Woods’s bag as he sets off on what could be the toughest stretch of his badly disrupted career.

A highly respected professional could be an early indication that Tiger believes he has every chance of making it back into the big time, but a stop-gap, good friend caddy might well indicate that the World No 21 – and sinking fast – is not too sure right now if there is, in fact, any future at all out there on the great golfing battlefields he once bestrode like a Colossus.

Neville Leck