Three years removed from his gutsy, legacy-defining performance at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Tiger Woods confirmed Tuesday that there will be no such heroics at this year’s Open — not from him, anyway. Woods announced on his website that he has decided not to play in next week’s U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.
“I am extremely disappointed that I won’t be playing in the U.S. Open, but it’s time for me to listen to my doctors and focus on the future,” Woods said. “I was hopeful that I could play, but if I did, I risk further damage to my left leg. My knee and Achilles tendon are not fully healed. I hope to be ready for AT&T National, the next two majors and the rest of the year.”
Woods, a three-time U.S. Open champion, also tweeted: “Very disappointed. Short-term frustration for long-term gain.”
Frustration is an emotion Woods has felt frequently in 2011. At the Masters, he aggravated his balky left knee and strained his left Achilles tendon when he hit an awkward shot from beneath the Eisenhower Tree in the third round. Woods described those injuries as “minor,” but in his next start, more than a month later at the Players Championship, he withdrew after just nine holes.
“I’m committed to my long-term health,” Woods said on his website Tuesday. “I want to thank the fans for their encouragement and support. I am truly grateful and will be back playing when I can.”
Woods has not won a major since he prevailed at Torrey Pines with a ruptured ACL and a double stress fracture in his left leg. He had knee surgery — the fourth of his career — immediately following that Open and sat out the rest of the year. In the nine majors Woods has played since then, he has finished in the top-10 six times, including a tie for fourth-place at this year’s Masters, but his major win total has remained at 14, four behind Jack Nicklaus’s record.
His last win of any kind came at the Australian Masters in November 2009.
The Associated Press reported that Woods rsvp’d to USGA Executive Director Mike Davis Tuesday morning. “We’re very disappointed that he won’t be playing in the National Open,” Davis told the AP. “He certainly brings excitement to the event. He’ll be missed, but the U.S. Open will go on. The event is bigger than one player, but he certainly will be missed.”
Taking Woods’s place in the field will be 23-year-old amateur Michael Whitehead of Sugar Land, Texas, who competed in sectional qualifying on June 6 at Dallas Athletic Club’s Blue Course. Whitehead shot rounds of 68-68-136 to earn the first alternate position.
It will be the first Tiger-less Open since 1994.