Tiger Woods' Most Inspiring Comebacks Ever

Professional golfer Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods continuously proves his resilience by overcoming setbacks. Woods' scary car accident in 2021 left him with numerous injuries that could have sent him into retirement, but once again, the athlete did not let it end his career. The sports star worked hard to earn a reputation as a golf legend, so it is perhaps no surprise that he isn't giving up that easily.

Woods was first introduced to the world of golf by his father, who he would watch play at as young an age as 6 months old. The then-aspiring professional golfer soon became a child prodigy and was even featured in Golf Digest at only 5 years old. By the time he was a college player, Woods was already relatively well-known in the sport. He went on to play through his father's death and numerous other personal and physical challenges. Despite these obstacles, the golfer now holds 106 worldwide wins, per Woods' official website. Let's revisit Tiger Woods' most inspiring comebacks.

He competed in the Masters Tournament after knee surgery

Before Tiger Woods became a household name, he played golf at Stanford University. The golfer broke records even as a student athlete. He won 11 tournaments — tying the record for most wins at Stanford — and was named 1st team all-conference for the two years he played there. Woods spoke fondly of his days at the prestigious university. "I really enjoyed being stimulated by the students and professors. Some were geniuses and others were Olympic athletes," he recalled, per Stanford Men's Golf. "It's amazing how well-rounded they are. That's what's so cool about it. You must soak up that experience. It was one of the best times in my life."

Unfortunately, Woods suffered a few setbacks during his time as a college athlete. He had to undergo surgery to remove two benign tumors and scar tissue in December 1994. It appears that this did not hinder the athlete's performance, though, because he went on to compete in his first Masters Tournament in 1997, where he won by an impressive — and record-breaking — 12 strokes. Little did the budding golf star know, this would only be the start of his long history of triumph.

He succeeded after withdrawing from his first U.S. Open

Tiger Woods began to make a name for himself in professional golf by 1995. This was the year he would compete in the U.S. Open for the first time, but his effort on the course was cut short due to an injury he couldn't play through. According to The Washington Post, Woods strained a ligament in his wrist mid-game. "Something tweaked in my wrist," the golfer said. "I tried to play with it but it got progressively worse." He went on to explain why the injury occurred. "This is what happens when you hit it in the long grass," Woods said. "You are not supposed to hit it there." The promising athlete decided to withdraw from the competition because he just couldn't play well through the painful injury.

His ligament strain did not stop Woods from going on to win a total of 3 U.S. Amateur titles, however, successes that helped him turn pro after college. The athlete was even named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year in 1996, just a year after the U.S. Open setback. This was an incredibly impressive accomplishment, considering Woods had only recently become a professional player.

Tiger Woods won a championship after an ACL injury

In 2007, Tiger Woods ruptured his ACL while enjoying some time off. He sustained the complicated injury while going for a run after competing in the British Open. Woods decided to keep playing with the injury and he went on to win the PGA Championship that year. At the time, he had no complaints about playing through the pain. "It turned into a great year," the golfer said of his victory, per Yahoo! News. "I felt like I've played well most of the year and I just didn't get it done in the first two major championships."

This was Woods' 13th major win, and he accomplished it while hurt. It seems that even the athlete himself was shocked at his resilience. "If you would ask me that in 12 years into my career would I have had this many wins and this many majors, there's no way," he continued. "I've exceeded my own expectations and I'm certainly not against that." As for the untreated injury, it would cause many problems for Woods later on, but he didn't appear to be worried about the long-term effects of playing on a ruptured ACL in that moment.

The golfer won the 2008 U.S. Open with a fracture

As you may have guessed, playing through a ruptured ACL wasn't the best idea for Tiger Woods' overall health, and he paid the price in 2008 when he had to undergo reconstruction surgery on his left knee, where the injury occurred. The professional golfer also had a double stress fracture in that leg due to playing on the injury. Assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and sports medicine, Patrick McCulloch, spoke with WebMD's Jumpstart about Woods' decision to play despite his ruptured ACL and fracture. "If a knee is painful and swollen, we generally recommend cutting back on the activities," the expert said. "In his case, he didn't have the opportunity to do that and in fact had to play more than expected."

Woods had to opt-out of the remainder of the 2008 season to allow himself time to recover, but only after winning the 2008 U.S. Open. That's right, the golfer once again pushed through the pain. Lee Westwood, who played alongside Woods at the U.S. Open that year, noticed he was visibly suffering. "Sometimes he grimaced, sometimes he didn't," Westwood said of his playing partner, per The Telegraph. "It was very on and off. We have always been quite pally and we talked all the way around and I kept asking him if he was all right. 'Not really,' was about as much as Tiger said."

He played in the Masters Tournament with an MCL sprain

It seems there isn't much that can take Tiger Woods down, because he played with an injury once again at the Masters Tournament in 2011. Despite the pain, Woods still tied for fourth, but the injury kept him out of later games. According to ESPN, the professional golfer opted out of the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship to give himself time to heal. "This is precautionary. We're not at all concerned," Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, said, per ESPN. "He's just listening to his doctors, which is kind of nice. He certainly didn't listen to them before the U.S. Open in 2008."

Had Woods been able to play in the Wells Fargo Championship injury-free, he might have come out on top, because he had previously won that tournament in 2007. The player didn't return to the world of professional golf again until 2011's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. It seems he may have been a bit off due to his short hiatus, however, because he didn't play great. "I didn't warm up very well, I didn't hit the ball crisp or clean," Woods said of his poor performance, per Golf Digest. "Very similar to, you know, the first day. The difference is, I made everything the first day. Today, I didn't make anything."

Tiger Woods played through back problems for years

According to The Guardian, Tiger Woods pulled out of numerous tournaments over the years due to his ongoing back problems. He took 15 months off after a back surgery before eventually returning to professional golf to play in the Dubai Desert Classic. Unfortunately, it seems he needed more time to recover, because he later had to withdraw from the competition. Woods' manager, Mark Steinberg, issued a statement that explained back spasms were to blame. "Tiger Woods went into a spasm in his lower back fairly late last night, got treatment done early this morning for three and a half hours, but can't get it out," Steinberg revealed, per The New York Times. "He says it's not the nerve, but back spasm, and he can't get the spasms to calm down."

Woods underwent a fifth back surgery in 2021, as he was still battling pain. During the procedure, doctors removed a pressurized disc fragment in an attempt to end his suffering. It seems everything went according to plan, because Woods later released a statement that read: "I look forward to begin training and am focused on getting back out on TOUR."

His remarkable return after a terrifying car accident

We didn't know whether Tiger Woods would ever be able to play golf again after his car accident in 2021. An accident report revealed that the golfer's car rolled over after he crashed into a median while driving over 82 mph (via USA Today). The crash left Woods with numerous leg injuries that prevented him from walking for three months. He sustained broken bones in both his left and right legs as well as trauma to the muscles in those areas, according to a statement his team shared on Twitter. As you can probably imagine, the athlete's recovery journey wasn't easy. Woods opened up about the difficult and painful process in an interview with Golf Digest. "This has been an entirely different animal," the athlete shared. "I understand more of the rehab processes because of my past injuries, but this was more painful than anything I have ever experienced."

It seems that Woods made a miraculous recovery because he made a comeback in 2022 after announcing he would compete in the Masters Tournament once again. Woods finished in 47th place, but his participation in the competition alone is impressive considering his injuries. It was later revealed that the athlete also filed entries to compete in the 2022 U.S. Open, so it seems he isn't willing to let anything prevent him from finishing his career out strong.