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A leading surgeon believes Tiger Woods can become a ‘serious contender’ again after undergoing spinal fusion surgery in April.

Dr Bob Chattergee, director of Harley Street Spine and spinal lead at The Royal Free Hospitals NHS Trust, has performed all forms of spinal surgery – from skull to pelvis – and believes the procedure Woods underwent earlier this year has placed him in good stead for his comeback.

Asked whether Woods could return to that level of performance of the early to mid 2000s, before injuries and personal issues took their toll, Chattergee said: “To a degree. The back never returns to 100%, but it doesn’t need to.

“With his swing coach, Tiger has reconstructed his swing to lessen the torque/twisting being applied to his lower back and is relying on timing as much as power.

“As Sir Nick Faldo once said, ‘Don’t hit it harder, hit it better’. Provided he is pain free and comfortable in his movements, he should be able to return as a serious contender.

Tiger Woods

“Although at his level of sport, the mental side of recovering from injury is as important.”

Woods’ recent surgery involved removing the damaged disc and re-aligning the remaining discs.

A metal hollow cage, which contains artificial bone, was implanted between the vertebrae and, due to this being placed through a frontal approach to the spine, it avoids further damage to the muscles of his back which were causing him spasms.

But what are the chances of this particular injury problem flaring up again?

“Not at the lowest level, as the disc has been removed entirely,” added Chatergee. “However, once you’ve had a disc prolapse in one area, the risk is slightly increased that it could occur again in another part of the spine.”

For Woods’ sake, let’s hope that isn’t the case. The 41-year-old tees off alongside Justin Thomas at 5.05pm UK time tomorrow. Sky Sports TV coverage begins at 5.30pm.

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