Tiger Woods taking recovery slow

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 28, 2011

By Doug Ferguson
Associated Press
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. ó Tiger Woods is no longer using crutches, a walking boot or a razor. He hasnít hit a full golf shot in 47 days and has no idea when he will practice, much less play in another tournament.
All he could say with certainty Tuesday was that he would not return until he was fully healthy.
ěUsually I set a timetable when I want to come back and play when Iíve had injuries before,î Woods said at the AT&T National, which benefits his foundation. ěThis one is different. Iím going to learn my lesson from what I did at The Players and apply it this time and come back when Iím 100 percent. I donít know when thatís going to be.
ěThatís kind of the frustrating thing about it right now is I donít know.î
While he did not rule out the British Open, which starts July 14 at Royal St. Georgeís, he made it sound as though he would miss another major championship.
ěI wouldnít go over there just to show up,î he said. ěIíd go over there to win the golf tournament, so I need to obviously get my body ready so I can practice, and eventually play.î
Heís not doing much of anything at the moment. Woods watched the U.S. Open and was amazed at how Rory McIlroy matched his record by building a six-shot lead after 36 holes, then continued to crush his competition in winning by eight shots.
With shared parenting of his two kids, he has watched more cartoons than he ever did as a child. ěWhatís actually really tough to watch now all the time is ëDora.í That song is just brutal,î he said.
And for the first time in public, he was sporting a full beard, though nothing that compares with Lucas Glover.
Woods has not played since May 12 when he withdrew after nine holes from The Players Championship. That was his first tournament since ěminor injuriesî to his left knee and Achilles from an awkward stance in the pine straw in the third round at the Masters.
He said it was borderline whether he should have played at the TPC Sawgrass, a decision he now regrets. Had he skipped The Players, Woods said he would be playing now.
So what was he doing at Sawgrass?
ěIíve played in pain before and Iíve played injured, and Iíve played through it, and Iíve been very successful at it,î Woods said. ěThere has been a number of years where Iíve been hurt more than people could possibly understand, and Iíve played and Iíve won. I just felt that it was good enough to give it a go, and I did. And I hurt myself.î
Woods has gone through four knee surgeries since his freshman year at Stanford. He tore knee ligaments while jogging in the summer of 2007, and finished the year winning five of six tournaments, including a major. He won the U.S. Open in 2008 for his 14th major on one good leg. And after injuring his right Achilles in December 2008, he won seven times the next season.
But there was something about this injury ó perhaps the state of his game or the clock ticking on his career ó that caused him to stop being so stubborn when it comes to his health.
He said this injury wasnít even as bad as some of the others.
ěBut I hurt myself again,î he said. ěItís time to actually have a different approach. Itís time.î
Woods still believes he has time on his side, especially when it comes to his pursuit of Jack Nicklausí record 18 professional majors. He remains stuck on No. 14, and he canít get closer if heís not playing.
ěHe won when he was 46, right?î said the 35-year-old Woods. ěIíve still got some time. I feel pretty confident of what my future holds and very excited about it. Iím excited about coming out here and being ready to go, instead of trying to kind of patch it, which Iíve been doing for awhile.î
Woods said he has been able to putt, and thatís about it for his golf. He said he spends every day in the gym trying to get stronger, not just work on the left knee and Achilles, but his entire body. He said there are as many as three sessions a day, although they rarely last more than an hour.
ěWeíre testing it every day to see what it feels like,î he said. ěYou try and push it as far as the leg will go, and then if it doesnít feel any good, then you bring it back. And each day itís gotten better. We havenít had any setbacks, which has been good. But still, itís not as explosive or as strong as Iíd like to be.î
And that means no golf ó at least for now.
Woods is leaving that to everyone else, and there have been some special performances. Luke Donald has risen to No. 1 in the world, McIlroy is up to No. 3 while Woods has tumbled to No. 17, his lowest spot in more than 14 years.
Justin Rose, the defending champion at Aronimink, says Woodsí absence is still noticeable.
ěThe way he plays the game, he plays it with a lot of intensity,î Rose said. ěI think people like to see him win. He seems to win in dramatic style more often than not. So thatís I think what people like to see. He puts on a good show. Everything that goes around him at a golf tournament is a little more high atmosphere, high energy.î
Assuming he misses the British Open, the next tournament Woods typically plays is the Bridgestone Invitational, which starts Aug. 4 and precedes the final major championship of the year. The FedEx Cup playoffs are after that, although only the top 125 qualify and Woods is at No. 114 ó and not moving up because heís not playing.
Woods, however, said he would be surprised if the year ended without him playing again. This isnít a repeat of 2008, when he missed the last six months of the year after reconstructive knee surgery. He said his knee and Achilles are getting better.
ěIíd be very surprised because Iím progressing,î he said.