Tiger's 40 Biggest Moments: No. 26 – Knee Surgery After 2008 U.S. Open

Tiger’s 40 Biggest Moments: No. 26 – Knee Surgery After 2008 U.S. Open

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Tiger Woods leans over his knees after missing a birdie putt on the 7th hole in a sudden death the playoff during the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in La Jolla on June 16, 2008. He will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left knee.
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Over 40 days, GOLF.com is rolling out Tiger Woods’ 40 biggest moments. Our ranking started on Nov. 21 and will culminate on Dec. 30, which is Tiger’s 40th birthday. That’s 40 Tiger moments. In 40 days. Ranked. Click here to learn more about our list.

Frequently wincing in pain and clutching his left leg, Tiger Woods nonetheless captured the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in dramatic fashion. (Spoiler alert: Tiger’s win at Torrey will appear later in our countdown.) Few knew the complete scope of the drama until two days after his Monday playoff with Rocco Mediate, when Woods revealed that he had been competing for at least 10 months with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. It was further revealed that additionally, he had suffered a double stress fracture of his left tibia two weeks before the U.S. Open. No wonder Kenny Perry proclaimed, “He beat everyone on one leg.”

By June 2008, Woods was no stranger to surgical procedures on his knee, having gone under the knife three times since 1994, including right after the 2008 Masters.

At U.S. Open time, however, Tiger knew he was in trouble. It turns out that Tiger had ruptured the ACL in his left knee while running on a golf course at his Florida home after the 2007 British Open. He decided against a procedure at this time—the only tear anyone knew about was the one Tiger was on while winning five of his next six events. Ignoring his doctors’ advice in the lead-up to the 2008 U.S. Open, he grimaced his way to an unforgettable Monday victory. On Wednesday, he told the world of his plans to have season-ending surgery, forcing him to forego the year’s final two majors as well as the Ryder Cup.

“I know much was made of my knee throughout the last week, and it was important to me that I disclose my condition publicly at an appropriate time,” said Woods on his web site. “I wanted to be very respectful of the USGA and their incredibly hard work, and make sure the focus was on the U.S. Open. Now, it is clear that the right thing to do is to listen to my doctors, follow through with this surgery, and focus my attention on rehabilitating my knee.”

Eight days after the U.S. Open, Dr. Thomas Rosenberg surgically repaired Tiger’s left ACL in Park City, Utah. It took eight months for Woods to return to tournament golf, at the 2009 WGC Accenture Match-Play, where he lost in the second round to Tim Clark. Though he’s brought home 14 PGA Tour titles since that knee surgery, he’s O-fer in the majors.

Check back on GOLF.com every day until Tiger’s birthday on Dec. 30 for a new moment in our [email protected] countdown.

No. 27: Winning Back-to-Back Masters

No. 28: Launching the Tiger Woods Foundation

No. 29: Becoming a Father for the First Time

No. 30: Ugly Breakup With Steve Williams

No. 31: First U.S. Amateur Win at TPC Sawgrass

No. 32: Wire-to-Wire British Open Win at St. Andrews in 2005

No. 33: Relationship With Lindsey Vonn

No. 34: Third Straight U.S. Junior Am Title

No. 35: A Shot in the Dark at Firestone

No. 36: Television Debut at Age 2

No. 37: Breakup with Hank Haney After Six Years

No. 38: Disastrous 2004 Ryder Cup Pairing with Phil Mickelson

No. 39: Beats Stephen Ames 9&8 in 2006 Cadillac Match Play

No. 40: Wins 2008 Arnold Palmer Invitational with Dramatic Putt