Tiger Woods, just two days removed from winning the U.S. Open in a hard-fought playoff, will have reconstructive knee surgery and miss the rest of the PGA Tour season. According to a statement on Woods' Web site, the 14-time major winner will have his fourth knee operation, and his second in two months, in order to repair his left anterior cruciate ligament. The announcement that Woods will skip the remainder of the year is a stunning end to a dramatic week for the world's top-ranked golfer. Last Thursday, he teed up in the 108th U.S. Open, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, after having not played competitively since the Masters in April. Just days after his runner-up finish in that tournament, Woods underwent his third operation. Despite the layoff, a lack of on-course preparation and pain throughout the event, Woods ended the U.S. Open tied for the lead with Rocco Mediate. That set up a back-and-forth Monday playoff in which Woods ultimately claimed victory on the first hole of sudden death. The triumph was his third in the U.S. Open and his 65th on the PGA Tour. Only Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead have more Tour wins than Woods. Nicklaus is also the only man with more majors, at 18. "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," Woods said in a statement issued through his agent Mark Steinberg. "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."
Along with the ACL surgery, Woods will need time off to rehabilitate a double stress fracture of his left tibia. That injury was found just before the Memorial Tournament in Ohio. The fractures were attributed to Woods attempts to get in shape for the U.S. Open, and doctors expect them to heal with time. The statement from Woods said his physicians have assured him that with the proper care, "the knee will be strong and there will be no long-term effects." A date for the surgery hasn't been set yet. While Woods' fans around the world will wish him a speedy recovery, that's not the only constituency hoping he'll be able to continue his career sooner rather than later. The tournaments in which he plays and the television networks that show his events will now have to deal with the fact that they won't have the planet's marquee player to help bump up attendance and viewership. Perhaps most disappointing for U.S. fans is knowing that Woods, in addition to missing the next two majors, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship, will also be sidelined for this year's Ryder Cup at Valhalla in Louisville. The Ryder Cup, played every two years and pitting American golfers against their top European counterparts, has been dominated by Europe in recent years, and Woods' absence will no doubt hurt the home team's chances to recapture the cup.