For Woods, it never hurts to keep quiet

Tiger Woods during the third round of the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club.

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Jeff Rude’s “Hate To Be Rude” column appears on Golfweek.com on Wednesday.

Tiger Woods grimaced several times after hitting shots during the first rounds of the U.S. Open, his left elbow obviously causing him some pain. Woods, though, guarded the elbow diagnosis as if it were a CIA secret.

Until now.

He said Wednesday that he won’t play in the June 27-30 AT&T National tournament that he hosts because of an elbow strain. He said doctors examined him after he returned home to Florida after the Open.

Woods said they prescribed rest and treatment over the next few weeks. His next tournament will be the Open Championship on July 18-21 at Muirfield. It will be only his ninth stroke-play start on the PGA Tour this year.

He said on his website that he suffered minor elbow discomfort before the U.S. Open but aggravated the joint last week. Not that he was forthcoming about his condition at Merion. Per his custom, he was secretive about a physical ailment. He was that way as well when he won the 2008 Open on a broken leg.

Why?

“Well, you never want to let any of the guys know you’re hurt in any sport, doesn’t matter, ever,” Woods said this year at the Farmers Insurance Open.

• Yes, many people felt sorry for crowd-pleaser Phil Mickelson, who finished second at a U.S. Open for the sixth time. But, as one scribe accurately pointed out while scraping away the sappy emotion, Mickelson earned the silver medal considering he three-putted twice early for double bogeys and hit two poor wedge shots that led to bogeys.

The irony is that Mickelson was done in by the money club for which he is known.

• Something tells me the San Antonio Spurs feel worse than Mickelson. The difference is the Spurs get a mulligan Thursday night.

• Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy already have committed to play in the Dubai Desert Classic next Jan. 30-Feb. 2. It will be easier to count their strokes than all the zeros and commas in their appearance fees.

• Perhaps Billy Horschel’s haberdasher should have told him that no one has ever won a major championship wearing octopus pants – and no one ever will.

Have we not learned from Sergio Garcia’s canary suit at Hoylake?

• When someone finds out what I do for a living, the first three questions usually are: What’s Tiger like? What’s Phil like? Who’s your favorite player?

The answers:

  1. Guarded. As his former coach, Hank Haney, used to say, “He doesn’t trust anyone.”

  2. Image-conscious. Mickelson watched Arnold Palmer sign autographs forever at the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont and said, “I want to be that guy.” And so he has become a man of the people, signing autographs for long periods of time, win or lose.

  3. I’m not sure. It used to be Bruce Lietzke, then he went to the Senior Tour. Then it was Brandel Chamblee, and he went to the broadcast booth. Then it was Dan Forsman, and he joined the over-50 crowd.

But I do know this: Newly minted U.S. Open champion Justin Rose would seem to be in the top five or 15 nice guys.

• When someone known for his ball-striking has a good putting week, typically he succeeds. So it was with Rose at Merion.

He might be ranked 158th on the PGA Tour in putting (strokes gained), but he tied for 16th in total putts at Merion. He ranks third on Tour in ball-striking, and it again showed at the Open, where he ranked T-2 in fairways hit and T-7 in greens in regulation.

• Yes, all has been quiet regarding the putter anchoring ban for a few weeks. Surprisingly, that was even the case at the U.S. Open. But that could change soon, for the PGA of America and PGA Tour have meetings to discuss the issue during the next two weeks.

• How tough were the hole locations on Merion’s sloping greens? Well, consider that Mickelson hit 15 greens on Sunday but still shot 74, with half of those strokes coming on putts. And Woods hit 13 greens Saturday but shot 76.

You might not have been able to tell on television, but putts around the hole had plenty of break. And uphill putts were slow and downhillers ultra-fast.

• Woods at the Masters: I couldn’t get the pace of the greens down. Woods at the Memorial: I couldn’t get the pace of the greens down. Woods at the U.S. Open: I couldn’t get the pace of the greens down.

Sounds like a man who needs to do a lot of lag-putting practice before the Open Championship at Muirfield.

• Yes, Woods used to own weekends more than Bernie. But on his last six major weekends, he has gone 23 over par for 12 rounds and hasn’t broken 70.

One lay eye says chipping and putting are the culprits.

• The USGA sprained a rib muscle saying the penal Merion setup wasn’t with a winning score or protection of par in mind.

Until then, never knew people in blue blazers could be so funny.

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