For many months, the question about Tiger Woods has been: "Is he back?"
Now the question becomes something more concerning: "Is he healthy?"
After his worst major as a pro – an unsightly 13-over at the U.S. Open – Woods announced on his website that pain in his left elbow will cause him to miss the AT&T National in Washington D.C., a tournament he won last year.
"I was examined after I returned home from the U.S. Open," Woods said on his site, "and the doctors determined I have a left elbow strain."
Woods went on to say he expects to be ready for the British Open, which begins July 18.
"I have been advised to take a few weeks off, rest and undergo treatment," said Woods, who won't play again until the British Open. "I'll be ready to go for the British Open, and I'm looking forward to playing at Muirfield."
Woods appeared to be in pain on only his second shot at the U.S. Open, after pushing his first tee shot out to the right and trying to recover with an approach from thick rough. The pain seemed to get worse on the fifth hole when another recovery shot from the rough left him cringing and gripping his left wrist.
Woods admitted later in the tournament that he initially hurt his elbow at The Players in early May.
He has now struggled in two straight tournaments, including The Memorial, which he won last year. Woods is still the No. 1 player in the world, and has already been pegged as the favorite to win the British, yet this injury will stir questions about his ability to remain in top form – especially considering his history of knee injuries. Woods' last major victory came five years ago, at the U.S. Open, when he limped to victory on a torn left ACL. He needed significant time to recover from the ensuing reconstructive surgery.
Since then, Woods has been sidelined from tournaments for a variety of reasons, even as he's returned to the top ranking he held during the height of his career. He missed two majors in 2011, and had to pull out of The Players in both 2010 and 2011 – once for a neck injury, once for a leg injury.
Woods has recovered quickly from injuries in the past; he pulled out of the World Golf Classic-Cadillac Championship last year and then won the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks later.
He'll hope to have the same kind of comeback at the British Open, yet a third straight disappointing performance will fire up more questions about when Woods will be "back," as well as if.
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