Tiger Woods has a passionate supporter in the form of Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr. It’s not about winning tournaments though. Kerr just sees much of himself in Woods. Kerr, whose own career was interrupted by complications related to his own back surgery, has a newfound appreciation of Woods.
Despite their disparate views on the current executive branch and lack of a personal relationship, Kerr and Woods have a connection. Both are among some of the most successful athletes of the past two decades, Woods as the No. 1 golfer on the planet, and Kerr as a role player and coach who’s been a member of three of the four best NBA dynasties of the past 25 years. Their more relevant commonality are their respective return from debilitating back injuries.
Kerr’s back issues were the result of a botched procedure he underwent during the summer of 2015, resulting in cerebrospinal fluid leakage. Kerr’s back pain subsided, but over the course of the next two seasons, Kerr battled headaches, nausea, missed portions of two seasons and was almost unable to coach in the 2017 playoffs.
“Tiger’s back” used to be a hopeful phrase denoting Woods’ return to the PGA Tour’s apex. However, in recent years, “Tiger’s back!” became a solemn phrase that was uttered in horror, his faulty back began acting up again.
At his first tournament of 2017, Woods has been brilliant thus far. Woods’ briefly led during the second round of the Hero World Challenge, but his performance on Thursday prompted Kerr to heap praise upon Woods for his resilience, per The Mercury News.
“I’m so happy for him,” Kerr said following practice on Thursday. “Mainly just because he’s out there playing.”
“When you go through a back injury, you understand other people who have been through it,” Kerr said. “Before I had a back issue, I would’ve just gone, ‘Oh that’s awesome, Tiger’s back.’ Now, it goes much deeper than that. I know the pain he’s going through, even though our situations are much different. I’m just so happy to see him out there playing and doing what he loves to do, back at it again. Whether he wins or not, you can tell he’s happy.”
Kerr’s coaching duties may not be as physically arduous as Woods’ golfing, but he has still become a vocal opponent of back surgery being turned to as an elixir.
“I can tell you if you’re listening out there, if you have a back problem, stay away from surgery,’’ Kerr remarked to reporters in April. “I can say that from the bottom of my heart. Rehab, rehab, rehab. Don’t let anyone get in there.”
Woods hasn’t finished a PGA Tour tournament in two years and still has to make it through the weekend healthy to label this a success. However, he seems well on his way to joining Kerr as a cautious back surgery tale, turned successful recovery story.