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Report: Tiger Diagnosed With Bulging Disk, Television Anchors Go On Defensive To Avoid Possible Career Defining Moment

Golfweek's Jeff Rude reports that a source close to the Tiger Woods camp has told him the World No. 1 has been diagnosed with a bulging disk in his back that will not require surgery.

Rude notes:

It could have been much worse, the person said, because Woods doesn’t have the kind of herniated disk that likely would require an operation.

Responding to the report, agent Mark Steinberg tells Bob Harig that nothing has changed.

You may recall that Woods suffered from a bulging disk in his neck, which led to this totally harmless slip by then-Golf Channel anchor Win McMurry.

My recommendation? Anchors, change your mantra's this week to bulging back disk, bulging back disk, bulging back disk.

And remember anchors, should you slip up never forget: the cover up is always more problematic than the crime.

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Reader Comments (36)

Fix the McMurry link! Fix the McMurry link! You should never deprive anyone of the opportunity to experience that moment.
03.20.2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
Oops, repaired. Thanks.
03.20.2014 | Registered CommenterGeoff
Geoff, tiger self diagnosed as bulging disk, but later said after MRI it was inflamed facet joint. But if I'm an anchor I'm practicing :p
03.20.2014 | Unregistered CommenterElf
Facet or bulging disk, it's much more manageable than a herniated disk. Epidural perhaps? Is there a doctor on the blog?
03.20.2014 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
As previously stated in the "Tiger hurting himself by lifting weights" thread, I actually DID sustain a real, live herniated disk several years ago while completing a set of light squats. Came out of nowhere. I tried a cortisone shots and a few exercises, but the only thing that made me finally healthy was Complete Rest. Today -- five years later -- I'm totally healthy.

My prediction: just as he appeared out of nowhere (for a completely different reason) to compete in the 2010 Masters, Woodhead will rest until April 9, try a practice round and then give it a go. 50/50 on playing 72 holes.
03.20.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBenSeattle
Growing up one of my parents best friends was the head of Orthopedic Surgery at Yale. 40+ years ago I can still recall him telling my Dad that back surgery was a last resort that would never work for more than a few years.
Fast Forward my wife under went back surgery and those sage words have proved true

We have recently been aware of this -
Having spoken with a few people who have had this it seems to work and we are looking into it.
It seems to me that Tiger has two choices at this point if he is to continue trying to surpass Mt. Nicklaus
1. Talk to Fred Couples Doctor in Germany
2. Talk with your Otho about the above procedure.
03.20.2014 | Unregistered Commentermainuh
Haven't read the linked pieces. But I'm comfortable saying that the Navy Seal exercise themed training didn't do him an ounce of good in the long run. The club weighs between 10-12oz. Big muscles are not a prerequisite. But bone position (eg: skeletal balance as taught @ Gaston CC) is the key. Bone beats muscle 100% of the time. Ask a decent shooter if you want to confirm. In golf the ball doesn't move. So it is not a relatively big athletic move like in tennis, soccer, or other ball sports.

Wood Duck....quack quack. Sad to see him getting lost internally. Just let ball flight and passion lead the way and everything will be alright. Tiger could take a page out of Lee Buck's book of knowledge.

Just sayin'
03.20.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohnnnycz
Win's slip / self correct reminiscent of Sir Robin's response to "What is your favorite Color"
03.20.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
I'm surprised nobody has suggested that fundamentally and completely changing the way he swings the golf club, after doing it basically the same way for over 30 years may have something to do with him hurting his back. Although his swing changed 'slightly' with Butch and then Haney, it was basically the same swing and motion. This thing he's doing now would hurt anybody's back.
03.20.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
An inflamed facet joint can happen due to any number of circumstances. Speculating that it may be due to weight training or his swing is laughable.

He needs to be looking at six weeks' rest to make sure the injury is completely healed. Then he can think about rehabilitation so that it doesn't happen again.
03.20.2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarcus Welby
Yea the guy in Germany does really good work, although its done state side too.

I have back problems, never seems to go away completely
Marcus, I don't think those possible causes are laughable. Nevertheless, I concur about the 6 weeks of downtime and rehab to fully recover.

I've listened to enough people close to Woodrow say that he's a fitness freak who really pushes things in the weight room, guys who've worked under Foley. I don't doubt it. Woody doesn't do anything halfway - he's an all or nothing type. It is interesting however that the one player on Tour who is undoubtedly the fittest is also one of the players most prone to injury.

It could be coincidence, but Timmy Herron isn't having his playing partner's caddie fetch his ball out of the hole.
03.20.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPA PLAYA
My bulging disk diagnosed last May required an epidural. Almost one year later I have not played another round of golf yet and physical therapy was months of hard work - still ongoing. I hope to play again as soon as weather here allows but I will never go after the ball the way I did before. Now I have 25 years on Tiger but I never took PED's or played at a very high level. I think he is in trouble if he wants to play even his normal light schedule at a level that will satisfy him. This will also not help his mental issues on the course that have IMO caused chipping and putting Yips.
03.20.2014 | Unregistered CommenterGeoffreyC
I guess there are varying degrees of inflamed disc or facet, but it seems like if he is going to play at Augusta he has to: rest a short period, perhaps 10 days; respond to anti-inflammatory medications of some type (probably more than just NSAIDs; either prednisone or a steroid injection in the area of inflammation); be able to tolerate not only 4 rounds of golf, but a modified regime of preparation before playing 4 rounds. Forget winning. If he can do that and make the cut and play all 4 rounds I'll be impressed.
His entire routine for playing a tournament, including the weight training and cardio training, is disrupted. A golfer out of his routine is not usually a good thing.
[Disclosure: I proof-read this 4 times after hearing the McMurry gaffe.]
03.20.2014 | Unregistered Commentergov. lepetomane
It might be a blessing in disguise. It's a cliche at this point to say that Tiger plays his best when he swings at less than full throttle. But I could see him bunting it around Augusta and making some noise. If he can remember how to putt.
03.20.2014 | Unregistered Commenterhighside
Six weeks rest...Maybe Steiny can get him a deal with Aflac! You know to be able to pay the mortgage and the bills.
03.20.2014 | Unregistered CommenterTadpole

I don't know the answer to this so I'll ask people's opinions here:

Obviously, with the Vijay Singh situation, there is a strict PED policy on the PGA Tour. Now, what if a doctor's prescribes, as mentioned above, a pretty rigorous regime of steroid injections? I mean, you can't really say, "Oh that's different .. it's prescribed by a doctor." Because .. being friends with a great many physicians and being involved in their personal lives .. I can tell ya .. you're gonna find somebody that will prescribe Zohydro nine times a day backed up by an Opana IV .. if the cash is right. And that's just a fact. It's human nature.

So, where is the line drawn here? Ya know what I am saying? Would this give Tiger a pass forevermore on the PGA Tour for testing positive for steroids? I mean, couldn't he just say, "Yeah, it's for my back." Same goes with any type of pain medication. Is this a pass forevermore for pain meds for Tiger when it comes for drug testing?

I have always wondered where the line is drawn with this type of thing and whether this is used to get around some regulations.


03.20.2014 | Unregistered CommenterDD
Lest we forget, he claimed to have a bulging disk when his score was ballooning towards the mid 80s at the 2010 Players only to appear at the US Open four weeks layer where he finished T4.

All hail the miraculous power of Buddha!!!
03.20.2014 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi Golfer
Tiger should have his caddy tell him that more club swung less violently will hit the ball as far.
03.20.2014 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
@dd the pga tour (and every sports organization) has a list of banned substances bc they're performance enhancing. You can't take those substances even if they're prescribed by a dr (exception for some drugs having to do with ADD). Cortisone (which is a steroid) isn't considered a PED, or banned by any league though.
03.20.2014 | Unregistered CommenterElf
Didn't Lindsay Vonn also get a bulging disk after a fall during a training run in Val d'Isère? Hmmm, me thinks
03.20.2014 | Unregistered Commenter3PuttAficionado
Was it Calcavecchia who said "You can't pull fat"?

I don't think his weight training has anything to do with this, but I have always found that line funny.
03.21.2014 | Unregistered CommenterPat(another one)
@ DD - my understanding is that they have what is known as a "Theraputic Exemption" - with some sort of review process for substances such as steroids. If you have an affliction that requires steroidal treatment (like an illness or something) then you submit that for approval. I'm sure someone here knows in more detail.
03.21.2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
@ Elf and DD. A TUE - Therapeutic Use Exemption. From the PGA anti doping manual.

"What about medical treatment?
you may at times experience a medical condition that results in your doctor prescribing medications.
some medicines are banned under the Program. However, by applying for and obtaining a therapeutic
use exemption (a “TUe”) a player may be allowed to take the necessary medicine.
if you obtain a TUe, and the prohibited substance allowed by the TUe is detected in your test sample,
it will protect you from sanctions under the Program. if you need to apply for a TUe, you should
refer to section 6 of this manual to learn about the TUe application process and review the TUe
information on if you are a member of another tour (and not a member of the PGA
TOUR) you should ask your governing tour about its TUe process. The PGA TOUR may recognize TUes
granted by other golf organizations provided the medical waiver was granted in a manner consistent
with the PGA TOUR’s Program
03.21.2014 | Unregistered Commentermetro18
Time for Tiger to try the single-plane swing. As Moe Norman, its inventor, (who never ever suffered any back problems
throughout his 74 years of life), once said: "Keep it simple, stupid."
03.21.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRaymond Filip
An injury like this hits a player like Tiger more than other type players like Nicklaus or Couples. His career has been built on extensive work trying to get the mechanics right and by his own words requires "lots of reps". By contrast Nicklaus and Couples had compromised backs but never made huge swing overhauls. It will be interesting to see if Tiger can adjust and function with this in majors down the road. Four rounds in a major is asking a lot. From here on out his best chances may come at Open Championships where driver is not as key on a lot of links they use.
03.21.2014 | Unregistered Commentermunihack
Seven years ago this month, I had a herniated disc at L3, the worst place in the spine possible for a golfer, and I ended up in the hospital with the worst pain I've ever felt in my life. Literally could not take a deep breath without it feeling like someone was sticking a knife in my back. After 24 hours of MAJOR pain medication in the hospital that started in the ER to stop the flow of inflammation in the nerves coming out the bottom of my spine area, the big pain was gone.

I then did bed rest for a week and started a rehab almost solely comprised of yoga exercises designed for a golfer by a PGA Tour physician and supervised in my home by an advanced yoga instructor.

Three months later in June, I left for a long planned two-week trip to Scotland where I played Brora, Royal Dornoch, Cruden Bay (in a vicious howling Scottish gale), Carnoustie (on plastic mats two weeks before The Open), TOC, TNC, and Kingsbarns. I did yoga twice a day before and after all rounds, had one professional massage, and took ibuprofin. All in all, two of the best golfing weeks of my life. And today (knock wood, not Woodie... <g>), I am more flexible in my golf swing than ever.

Surgery is often unneeded and in fact harmful to herniated disc injury. As is a lot of stuff (like weight lifting... and many advertised "cures"). But as I've said here before, there is no predicting back pain and its consequences, even in a single patient, let alone from athlete to athlete. The back can go out when reaching for a towel after a shower, and it can be fine through consecutive days of long strenuous golf. Only one thing is assured -- that the difficulties will recur -- on their own damn schedule -- and even if you're Tiger Woods.
03.21.2014 | Unregistered CommenterRLL
@brianS @metro18 that's how people get exemptions for medication for stuff like ADD, doesn't happen for stuff like steroids or hgh (though it should). Remember doug Barron?
03.21.2014 | Unregistered CommenterElf
DD- "cortisone" is a glucocorticoid, not an anabolic steroid that is derived from sex hormones like testosterone. They do not have similar mechanisms of action. The term steroid refers to compounds that share a similar molecular structure. Cholesterol is also a type of steroid. No TUE is necessary.

Tiger can certainly come back from this acute exacerbation, and, yes, Terry, it is likely given the speed with which he would like to come back that he will receive an epidural injection (although the data to support their efficacy is far from robust). However, whatever the diagnosis, this will always be a potential issue for him. If he doesn't change his exercise routine and swing, there's no telling how often this will crop up. It will take tremendous luck for him to continue in this current vein and reach the level and consistency of play be desires. Regardless of whether it was his swing, his workouts or his genes, what he has been doing clearly doesn't work for his body. The only thing that will allow him to chase Jack's record is for him to humble himself and make the necessary changes to take stress off his back. Whether or not the most bullheaded golfer in the history of the game is able to do this will be the sole determinant of what he can accomplish in the future.
03.21.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLouis Friend
Elf. The player can apply for a TUE for anything that falls into the banned list. Whether it is granted or not, is up to the PGA. That includes steroids, which include a huge plethora of various medications. Whatever the story was with Doug Baron, he was denied a TUE and went ahead and took the medication anyway. Ultimately, his decision when he knew the outcome should he be tested.
TUE's are granted for "steroid" use because so many medications used in the control of pain and inflammation contain some sort of steroid.
03.22.2014 | Unregistered Commentermetro18
You guys aren't using the term steroid correctly. Time to move on.
03.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterLouis Friend
When are people going to start asking the hard questions about Tiger and PEDs, specifically HGH? The man was the greatest putter and chipper the world had ever seen, then as soon as the Tour implements its drug policy, his short games goes into the toilet? And that's not HGH? Every baseball player used to say that they focused a million times better at the plate, and that the baseball looked like a basketball when they were on HGH. Tiger used to NEVER misread putts. Once the Tour drug ban went into effect, he was missing the hole by 3 inches from 8 feet.

The guy was at Stanford right as the Balco thing started. He was literally 10 minutes away, with access to some of the greatest trainers in the world at Stanford - people at the forefront of sports and medicine.

And please don't tell me about how Tiger was one of the loudest voices calling for drug testing. I think he's established himself as more than capable of deception and covering his tracks at this point. It was probably a sham all along to deflect suspicion from himself.
03.22.2014 | Unregistered Commentermuckraker
Geoff, didn't I once see you on Golf Channel snottily claiming Tiger was "acting" when he recently complained of back spasms during an event?
Funny, Geoff, I don't recall your ever questioning Fill Mickelson's "mental FATigue" or Charlie Beljan's "anxiety attacks" or for that matter the claimed injuries of any golfer not named Tiger. Do we have a Brandel haterade problem here?
03.22.2014 | Unregistered Commenterjohn doak
john doak is formerly of the Golf Channel Discussion Board Tiger Slurper Racist Brigade.

And, he's one of the less extreme ones.
03.22.2014 | Unregistered Commentersgolfer
Thanks, Geoff. The Wynn McMurray blooper is one of the funniest I've heard in a while. We knew Tiger had this problem going back to the fire-hydrant incident.

For conditioned athletes, disk problems rear their ugly heads right at the bottom of the golf swing if nowhere else. Can't get around it. For hackers, disk problems show up almost as early as mid-way into the backswing. Tiger's gut-it-out mentality will not help him here and may have already hurt him for the long-term. I noticed him hiding a back problem during his round of 60 last year. Hawkins of golf channel said in response to my observation on his blog that it was a non-issue -- journalists covering for the golden- egg- laying goose. Respect for Hawkins journalist expertise otherwise. Considering Tiger's reverence for his father's heroic Green Beret exploits in Vietnam, I think Tiger would gladly choose to keep his Navy Seals training and billions and pass on reaching 18 Majors. I would.
03.22.2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Duffer
Doak, Geoff did make snarky attacks on Beljan and his panic attacks. So in this case he is consistent.
Consistently ignorant, but consistent. If there is a chance to post stories that make
touring professionals look bad, it will have a shot.

The story from on Paul Tesori's baby, and the support from tour players and caddies a couple of weeks ago
was a cool one. Paul was very appreciative of the support from his player and the "community of the tour.
Too positive for here
03.23.2014 | Unregistered CommenterIn fairness

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