Tiger Woods, whose injured leg limits him to putting, has not ruled out playing at next month’s British Open but says he won’t return to the game until his injuries are completely healed.
“I will not be back until I am 100 percent,” Woods said during a press conference prior to this week’s AT&T National, which supports his charitable foundation. “I am not going to come back too early again.”
Woods, who has not hit a golf ball except with a flat stick since withdrawing from the Players Championship in May, conceded he should not have tested his leg that week and won’t make that mistake again. Though he said he had made no final decision about competing in the Open Championship at England’s Royal St. George’s Golf Club, the contest is only 16 days away and Woods’ balky knee is clearly not strong enough to support practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley.
“Sean and I have worked on a game plan for when I come back,” said Woods, who provided no timetable on his eventual return.
Admitting that he further damaged his leg by trying to rush back to the course, Woods said his current situation was worse than he believed it to be at first.
“I thought this wasn’t anywhere near [as serious as past injuries],” Woods said, “but I hurt myself and it’s time to have a different approach.
“It’s time,” he repeated.
Woods, who ruptured his ACL in 2007, has had four procedures on his left knee, and famously won the 2008 U.S. Open while playing on a broken leg. So lest Johnny Miller or other critics believe Woods wussed out by quitting The Players, Tiger pronounced that he was no baby.
“I’ve been hurt more than people could possibly understand and I’ve played and won,” he said. “I hurt myself [at The Players].”
While the good news for Woods is that there are no knee replacements or other surgical procedures in Woods’ future — “no discussion of surgery at all,” he stated flatly — it is difficult to imagine any competitive rounds of golf on his schedule any time soon either.
“I wouldn’t go over there [to the British] just to show up,” he said. “I’d go over there to win the golf tournament.”
Despite his bad pins, the former No. 1 reminded listeners that he’s not quite over the hill and expected to be back in contention when his health returned,
“I’m 35. I’m not 65,” he said. “I’ve still got some good years ahead of me….My best years are still ahead of me.”