Tiger Woods' game after surgery may be pure physics

Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:58am EST
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By Robert Muir

WASHINGTON (Reuters Life!) - Torsion, flexibility, velocity, momentum.

All have contributed to Tiger Woods' success as the world number one golfer -- and all will put his newly reconstructed knee to the test as he tees off on Wednesday in his first tournament since surgery eight months ago.

Woods' swing has been the envy of golfers around the world ever since he burst onto the professional scene in 1996.

His action is pure efficiency, combining hip, shoulder and wrist motion to exert the greatest possible force on the ball.

The applied physics of his swing propels the club head at an estimated 125 mph at the point of impact with the ball but it also concentrates intense and repeated kinetic energy on his left knee.

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) surgery that put the 33-year-old American out of action for eight months is commonplace among athletes, although less so among golfers.

The ACL is the ligament that threads between the tibia and femur in the knee. When the ACL is torn, as it was in Woods' case, the leg rotates in abnormal fashion, causing pain and a sense of instability.

Most damaged ACLs are replaced by ligament tissues from elsewhere in the body such as the kneecap or hamstring, although other choices include tissue from cadavers. Immediately after his own surgery, Woods' doctors reported a successful procedure.   Continued...

<p>Tiger Woods warms-up on the driving range as he practices for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship golf tournament in Marana, Arizona February 24, 2009. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan</p>