May 3 (UPI) -- Pro golfer Fred Funk knows some secrets about longevity on the links.
At age 60, he became the oldest player to ever make the cut at the Sony Open in January. At 48, he was the oldest player to make the U.S. Ryder Cup team as a rookie. In 2005, he became the oldest player (48) to ever win The Players Championship.
So if anyone can talk about Tiger Woods' bid for a comeback, it's Funk.
"He is always working hard," Funk told UPI in an interview Monday. "I saw him at the Ryder Cup. He looked really good, but he was having nerve pain in his back. He continued to work out but couldn't get rid of the nerve pain. He just had his fourth back operation on the same spot. He's trying to get back."
Woods, 41, announced April 20 that he underwent his "successful" fourth back surgery.
"When healed, I look forward to getting back to a normal life, playing with my kids, competing in professional golf and living without the pain I have been battling so long," Woods said in a statement.
Woods will miss out on The Players Championship, U.S. Open, The Open Championship, PGA Championship and other tournaments while he recovers. The man who once spent a record 281 consecutive weeks ranked No. 1 in the world hasn't been a major champion in more than 463 consecutive weeks.
He is now listed at No. 821 in the World Golf Rankings
But Woods' biggest legacy might not be the 14 major championships he hoards. It's on the course right now, in the form of the game's youth.
"Obviously, you've seen where and what Tiger created, which was really being fit," Funk said. "Tiger has himself looking like a defensive back in the NFL and he's a golfer. Now you look at the field and a lot of these young kids coming out are all in incredibly good shape and have incredible range of motion. They hit the ball a mile. The game is much more athletic because of Tiger."
Funk is on a cross-country fitness tour with NFL Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis. The duo are doing everything from sunrise beach yoga to spinning to...line dancing. Videos of the workouts debut on May 17 at StrykerChallenge.com.
"Can't say I've ever done line dancing," Funk said. "Batting cage stuff I've done a little bit before. That was a lot of fun. But I've done a lot of stuff to stay active and to keep moving. And that's kind of the whole thing you need to do. For me, when I had my knee replaced, it was to get range of motion back and to get strength back. That's very important and one of the most important things I emphasize when I do my little seminars in hospitals and rehab centers and things like that for people that are thinking about getting their hip or knee replaced."
Funk is an eight-time PGA Tour tournament winner in his own right. He has five career top 10 finishes in major tournaments. Funk won the 2005 Players Championship, but was slowed in his career by thumb, knee and shoulder injuries.
"A lot of guys do yoga and Pilates and a lot of stuff that has to do with range of motion," Funk said. "That's really, really important."
"Golf is in a really good place with the young players," Funk said. "They are doing a really good job of being ambassadors to the game of golf. Fowler is one that does a tremendous amount of biking. They all work out really hard.
"I have seen Jordan Spieth working out. He works out with heavier weights than you can imagine. He's doing a lot of range of motion stuff. A lot of it is functional training. What their emphasis is on is to strengthen what they do in golf. A lot of that is a lot of rotary work. A lot of rotational work. Trying to diminish the overuse and injuries you get from golf, which is a repetitive action over and over."
Funk wonders if the strong swings you see now will take a toll on golfers later in life.
"For me, I never had the swing that was as ballistic as they are nowadays," Funk said. "The swing now is...a violent move with the hips and the way the back is taking all of this torque. The guys are really trying to build up strength around that area of their body so that they can have that kind of longevity.
"They are punishing their body. It's not a natural motion, so they need to do everything they can. I think time will tell with this modern golf swing that these guys are so explosive...To have that longevity. It's going to be hard for them not to injure that back with what they are doing right now. We will see, time will tell."