What ties Tiger Woods and regenerative medicine together?
Tiger suffered many injuries on the long journey from his debut victory that shocked the world at the 1997 Masters to the 2019 Masters victory he just secured. When Woods needed to recover quickly during a string of multiple Achilles tears, he turned to regenerative medicine and platelet rich plasma (PRP) for answers.
The long road to the 2019 Masters
Since 1997, Tiger has been surprising the world. The first major shock came at the 61st Masters Tournament in 1997, almost 22 years ago to the day. Brash and untested, 21-year old Tiger woods became not only the youngest but also the first non-white competitor to ever win at Augusta.
While the rest of the world was still picking their jaws up from the floor, Woods was busy claiming new records left and right. As he repeatedly defeated the greatest records set by golf legend Jack Nicklaus and other legendary pros, he refined and improved his style. To the world, it seemed like Tiger had his eyes set on becoming the best golf player that ever lived.
Not long after, Woods became the top ranked golfer in the world for most of the stretch between August 1999 and October 2010. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
Tiger Woods and regenerative medicine: Tiger gets PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma)
In addition to a very public scandal, Woods experienced some serious injuries that kept him from playing his sport. His injuries became so frequent and severe that he couldn’t play golf for an extended period of time. Thankfully, there were other options for him to turn to when nothing else could work fast enough.
Take 2008, which was a big year for Tiger Woods. In addition to winning the U.S. Open and many awards, he experienced some major setbacks. First, he blew out his ACL, and then he injured his Achilles tendon.
“I did everything I possibly could to help heal faster.”
TIGER WOODS, 2010 MASTERS PRESS RELEASE
2 YEARS AFTER RECEIVING PRP TREATMENT
His injuries kept him down for a while, and he turned to special doctors to help. At the time, he wanted to heal properly and get back on the green as soon as possible. Traditional methods were not enough on their own.
At the time, regenerative medicine was the new kid on the block. However, Woods heard of the incredible potential it offers and sought out a doctor who could perform platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. The injections seemed to help, so when he re-tore his injuries, he came back for more.
Tiger Woods and his regenerative medicine doctor used PRP multiple times throughout the next year in an attempt to accelerate his healing. During his press conference at the 2010 Masters, Woods revealed his PRP treatments. “I did everything I possibly could to heal faster so I could get back on the golf course,” he said, “through the PRP injections.”
It turns out great minds think alike, because golf legend Jack Nicklaus also turned to regenerative medicine to help himself heal.
After receiving cell therapy treatments, Nicklaus revealed that, “the pain he used to feel while actively playing golf had subsided after a few months.” When asked how long he intended to keep playing, he said “As long as my cells allow me… Golf is a game of a lifetime, I hope to play for my lifetime”.
When it comes to Tiger Woods and regenerative medicine, his recovery allowed him to continue winning championships and playing the game for many years to come.
A golf legend: from “I’m done,” to “I won!”
It all started at the 2017 Champion’s Dinner, when Tiger allegedly whispered to another Masters champion, “I’m done. I won’t play golf again.”
For those who don’t keep up with golf, this may seem surprising to hear from a once legendary name in the sport. But flash back to 2016 when Tiger was a captain at the Ryder Cup, and you may begin to understand. He was in such pain that year he was having trouble just getting in and out of the golf cart.
By the time the 2017 Champion’s Dinner came around, Tiger had come hoping to compete. His crippling back pain, however, limited his mobility too much. The pain was incredible, and it traveled down his legs, making it hard for him to walk, sit, or stand.
In an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, six time major champion Sir Nick Faldo revealed that Tiger further whispered to another master, “I’m done. I’m done, my back is done.”
Flash forward to April 10th, just days before his climactic victory at the 2019 Masters. A lot has changed for Tiger Woods since he uttered the words, “I’m done,” and the legendary golfer is at the Golf Writer’s Association of America (GWAA) Awards show. He has come to accept the Hogan Award for “continuing to be active in golf despite a physical handicap or serious illness.”
However, Tiger has been much more than just “active” lately. After contending in two majors Tiger continued on to win the PGA Tour Championship in September 2018. This success marks his first PGA Tour victory since 2013.
“I was done.”
TIGER WOODS, 2019 GWAA AWARDS SHOW
4 DAYS BEFORE 2019 MASTERS VICTORY
Perhaps it is because of his incredible tenacity that Tiger Woods has been honored as the GWAA player of the year ten times in his life. In fact, he just received his third type of award from the GWAA this year.
That leads us to the fateful moment that he approaches the stage to accept the Hogan award, and his speech starts off with a joke to break the ice. Everyone laughs, but suddenly, Tiger Woods surprises everyone as his voice grows solemn.
“I was done. In order to actually come to the Champion’s Dinner I had to get a nerve block just to be able to walk and come to the dinner.” He then goes on to say, “Golf was not in my near future or even in the distant future. Uh, I knew I was going to be part of the game, but playing the game again, even, was… I couldn’t even do that with my son Charlie. I couldn’t even putt in the backyard.”
The room is silent as Tiger pours heartfelt words into the audience, expressing his gratitude at the opportunity to be there. He thanks the writers, the other players, and reveals a very different Tiger Woods from the many we knew before. Humbled by life or by choice, a better man expressed elation that he’d even be able to compete.
Four days later, he shocked the world again when he won the 2019 Masters.
What comes next for Tiger Woods and regenerative medicine?
Only time will tell, but at just the right intersection of dedication, tenacity, and great doctors, you’ll find Tiger Woods. It’s been a long, arduous road for him, and he’s soldiered on through injury and infamy to reach this moment. But now, even if he experience more injuries, he knows he’ll have options for treatment.
Like fine wine, some things get better with age. In the case of Tiger Woods, that took a lot of patience and even more practice, but as they say: practice makes perfect. Doctors have had more than another decade to practice the craft of regenerative medicine, and treatments are more advanced and better understood than ever before.
If you are injured, it might do you well to speak to a smart regenerative medicine doctor and find out your options. Depending on your issue, PRP or cell therapy could potentially accelerate your own body’s healing and get you back in the game faster.