Woods, on crutches, hopes to be ready for Open
If the objective was to send out a positive message to combat all the negative analysis and speculation that has swirled around his health, Tiger Woods seemed to score.
The only thing is, a true assessment of where Woods is with his health and golf game won’t be known for more than three weeks, or until he tees it up in the U.S. Open on June 16-19 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. Until then, all we have to go on are the words he spoke late Tuesday morning at a news conference to promote the AT&T National (June 30-July 3), which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation – and most of those words were wrapped in a positive blanket.
Calling his current woes with the knee and Achilles’ tendon a “cakewalk” when compared with the knee problem he had in 2008, Woods brushed aside published reports that have come forward since he withdrew May 12 after nine holes of The Players Championship.
Tiger Woods: Through the professional years
Photos from the career of the golf world's most famous player.
“It’s certainly not the doomsday” that’s been reported, Woods said as he sat inside Aronimink CC outside of Philadelphia. “I was more concerned in 2008 (with ACL damage). I’m a lot better off (now).”
Various scenarios that some in the media have forwarded were rejected by Woods. Knee replacement? “No one ever has mentioned that,” he said. As for a fifth surgery on his knee, he shook his head. “Not once” has that been discussed.
Instead, Woods conceded that he “probably did” return too early to try and play at The Players and that what is best for him now is rest and continued therapy. He said that he’s had his left foot in a boot and that he’s been using crutches to take the pressure “off the knee and back, but this past week it’s been good.”
Though he didn’t come out and say that he wouldn’t be teeing it up at next week’s Memorial, Woods indicated it was “doubtful” and he’d be calling “Jack (Nicklaus) either way.” That would seem to suggest that Woods has circled Congressional as his re-entry, and when asked about taking on a U.S. Open challenge after a long layoff, he shrugged. “Should be good to go.”
That is where the proverbial fork in the road shows up. On the one hand, people will say Woods has been this way before, in 2008 when he played just 22 rounds and five tournaments through the Masters, took two months off, and won the U.S. Open. So no big deal about the five tournaments and 17 rounds played through this year’s Masters.
But if you choose to take the road in the other direction, there is this reality: The state of his current golf game can’t compare to what it was in 2008. Three years ago when Woods was hobbling around on that left leg, he teed it up just five times, won three, and had $4,425,000 in prize money. His 2011 season, thus far, is pretty much a shell of what we’ve come to expect of him: six starts, 17 1/2 rounds, no wins, just two top 10s and a mere $571,563.
Asked to explain his golf woes, Woods said: “I love to practice. I love to prepare. I haven’t been able to do that.”
Soon, he will. “I’ll start the end of next week. I’ll begin spring training and get in golf shape,” Woods said.
Published reports have focused on both the knee and his Achilles’ tendon, but Woods wouldn’t get into specifics. “It starts with the knee and comes down to the Achilles,” he said. “Is it the chicken or the egg? They’re related.”
If the news conference proved one thing, it’s that the power of Twitter might be over-rated. Earlier in the morning, Woods had tweeted about his intention to donate $1 million to his own foundation if no one asked about “the leg.” Of course, the very first question, while not specifically about “the leg,” did ask about Woods’ health and that, in turn, opened up a long line of leg queries.
Charity, apparently, is no match for curiosity.