Woods says he hopes to return for U.S. Open

Tiger Woods

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Tiger Woods is “likely” to play in the U.S. Open, according to a statement posted to his website Monday evening. Woods, who withdrew after nine holes of last week’s Players Championship, said he aggravated his left-leg injuries at TPC Sawgrass but did not suffer any new damage.

“Aggravating my injury is very disappointing,” Woods said in the statement. “I’ll do whatever is necessary to play in the U.S. Open, and I’m hopeful I can be there to compete.”

The U.S. Open will be held June 16-19 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. Woods is doubtful for Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament two weeks before the Open, according to the statement on TigerWoods.com. Woods is a four-time Memorial champion.

Woods initially suffered a Grade 1 mild medial collateral ligament sprain to his left knee and a mild strain to his left Achilles’ tendon during the third round of this year’s Masters. He spun while hitting a shot from pine straw underneath the Eisenhower tree left of Augusta National’s 17th fairway. Woods shot a final-round 67 at Augusta to finish fourth.

Woods, who missed the Wells Fargo Championship because of his injuries, withdrew from The Players Championship after shooting 6-over 42 on the front nine at TPC Sawgrass. He said he was having difficulty walking as he left TPC Sawgrass.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said Sunday that he talked with Woods on the range for 30 minutes last Tuesday. Finchem said Woods did not show any signs that his knee was bothering him.

“He was hitting it really well,” Finchem said. “He went and played nine holes, and he didn’t have a problem. He played (Wednesday), he didn’t have a problem. He stayed on the range that day, he didn’t have a problem.”

Woods said he had not played or hit balls in the four weeks between the Masters and Players but was attempting to play because his injuries had improved. After withdrawing at TPC Sawgrass, he said that he was in pain from his opening tee shot.

“As I played, it progressively got worse,” he said. Woods has been treating the injury with anti-inflammatories, ice and soft-tissue work, according to the statement.

Woods, No. 8 in the Official World Golf Ranking, has completed 21 stroke-play rounds this year. Though he remains winless since 2009, his game appeared to be improving as he continued his work with instructor Sean Foley. In his past three starts, Woods finished fourth at the Masters, 24th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and 10th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

Woods has won the U.S. Open on a severely damaged leg before. He beat Rocco Mediate in a playoff at the 2008 U.S. Open while playing with a torn ligament in his left knee and a double stress fracture in his left leg.

The form he displayed at TPC Sawgrass would not seem to portend victory at the U.S. Open. But from his health to the state of his game, everything about Woods remains a mystery.

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