Lusetich: Tiger Woods Thought He Was Done

Woods thought his career was over, but then he fixed his back – and his swing

Reiter Than You
September 25, 2018 - 8:41 am

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Robert Lusetich, author of “Unplayable: An Inside Account of Tiger's Most Tumultuous Season,” dropped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss Woods’ win at the Tour Championship this past weekend. It was Woods’ 80th win – and his first in more than five years.

So, how did this happen? Especially after so many people had said Woods would never win again?

“(Monday was) a very active day on social media where people’s tweets were getting thrown back at them,” Lusetich said on Reiter Than You. “I’ll just say this: Tiger thought he was done, too. It wasn’t just me; it was everybody. And the reason was not only was he in all kinds of trouble with his back – he’d had multiple surgeries, no success, he couldn’t resolve the pain. He was in a position where just sitting was painful. Just getting in a car was painful. The idea that he was somehow going to play golf again was just fanciful.”

Back pain wasn’t Woods’ only issue, either.

“The road to this redemption began last summer with that DUI,” Lusetich said. “That DUI, to me, was a cry for help. It was rock bottom. It was Tiger essentially saying, ‘I’ve got a problem with pills.’ The resolution of that – coupled with the fact that he went for a Hail Mary surgical resolution, which was spinal fusion – and essentially they told him, ‘This is either going to work, or you’ll know for sure that you’re never going to play golf again.’ That’s how final that was. As it turned out, they were able to resolve the pain issues. He went through rehab. 

“And then, once all of those things came together, he then was confronted with the final hurdle: I need a swing,” Lusetich continued. “He might not have had any pain, but he didn’t have any game, either. So he needed a swing that he could rely on, and he needed to get back on the horse. Not everybody can get back on the horse and be what they once were. Just to see how far he’s come – and it’s really, honestly, a testament to this guy’s will. Certainly his mind was as strong as any athlete’s that’s ever lived."

Lusetich knew Woods was back at the PGA Championship, where he finished runner-up to Brooks Koepka.

“A lot of people thought, ‘Well, Woods lost it.’ But he didn’t really lose it. Brooks Koepka won it – and there’s a difference in that,” Lusetich said. “Brooks Koepka held his nerve and came through and won that tournament. Tiger shot 64 – his lowest round ever in the final round of a major. So he did everything right, and I think he knew it. I saw him afterwards, and he was smiling. This was, to me, an indication that he thinks he's close – and as it turns out, he was.”