|Woods withdraws from US Open|
|Wednesday, May 28, 2014 8:17 PM|
By DOUG FERGUSON
DUBLIN — Tiger Woods withdrew from the U.S. Open on Wednesday as he recovers from back surgery that has kept him out of golf for nearly three months.
It will be the second U.S. Open, and sixth major, he has missed because of injury over the last six years.
The U.S. Open is June 12-15 at Pinehurst No. 2, where Woods tied for third in 1999 and was runner-up in 2005. The announcement on his website was not surprising. A week ago at a promotional event for the Quicken Loans National at Congressional, Woods said he still had not taken a full swing with a golf club and did not know when he could.
He had microdiscetomy surgery to relieve a pinched nerve on March 31.
“Unfortunately, I won’t be there because I’m not yet physically able to play competitive golf,” Woods said. “I’d like to convey my regrets to the USGA leadership, the volunteers and the fans that I won’t be at Pinehurst. The U.S. Open is very important to me, and I know it’s going to be a great week.”
Woods last played on March 9 at Doral, where he closed with a 78 while suffering what he called back spasms. He withdrew in the middle of the final round at the Honda Classic with back pain a week earlier.
Woods is a three-time U.S. Open champion, one short of the record shared by Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Willie Anderson. His most recent U.S. Open victory was in 2008 at Torrey Pines, where he won in a playoff over Rocco Mediate a week before he had season-ending knee surgery.
That was his 14th victory in 46 majors, a winning rate of 30 percent as a pro. He has not won a major since Torrey Pines, leaving him four short of Nicklaus’ record.
Woods missed the British Open and PGA Championship after knee surgery in 2008. He missed the U.S. Open and British Open while allowing leg injuries to heal in 2011. He missed the Masters for the first time in April because of back surgery.
Nicklaus said earlier Wednesday that Woods’ health would be the biggest obstacle in breaking his record in the majors. Woods called Nicklaus earlier Wednesday to express regrets about missing the Memorial and Nicklaus recalled that Woods indicated he was making progress.
“If he’s healthy, I think Tiger has got 10-plus years to play top quality tournament golf,” Nicklaus added. “And I’ve said many times, he’s got a little over 40 tournaments to play the major championships; he’s only got to win five to pass my record. As good a player as he is, I don’t think that should be a big deal. But then again, he’s got to do it. Plus, he’s also got to be healthy to be able to do it.”
Woods has not indicated when he might be able to return to competition, saying that would be up to his doctors and how he recovers from the surgery.
“Despite missing the first two majors, and several other important tournaments, I remain very optimistic about this year and my future,” he added.
Stars starting to line up for big summer of golf: Adam Scott celebrated his rise to No. 1 in the world by rallying to win at Colonial. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Rory McIlroy capped off a busy week in the news by winning for the first time this year at the European Tour’s biggest event in England.
In a golf world that has been without Woods for the last few months, it gave the sport some life at just the right time.
Scott and McIlroy headline a strong field at the Memorial that includes nine of the top 12 players in the world, most of whom have never had a chance to share a winner’s handshake with tournament host Nicklaus behind the 18th green at Muirfield Village.
The Memorial typically has one of the best fields among PGA Tour events and signals the start of a big summer in golf at¬Ä? the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in two weeks, a month ahead of the British Open and the PGA Championship right behind it.
Woods, a five-time winner of the Memorial, last played March 9 at Doral.
Golf had been missing some excitement in his absence. It has been a peculiar year in which hardly any of the top players have won -¬Ä? until last week.
In 28 events on the PGA Tour this season, Scott was only the third winner who was among the top 10 in the world. The others were Zach Johnson (No. 9 at Kapalua) and Matt Kuchar (No. 6 when he won at Hilton Head).
Scott nearly missed the cut at Colonial, then closed strong on the weekend. Not since Vijay Singh in 2004 at the Canadian Open had a player won the week after he became No. 1 in the world for the first time in his career.
“It’s satisfying, absolutely,” Scott said. “But I think all the things I did leading up certainly helped put me in the right mindset to play well last week and it took a couple of days for it to show up really on the weekend. But that’s when it counts. … Getting to No. 1 was such a journey and so much work went into it. I wasn’t going to settle for just staying there for a week.”
With his win, Scott is assured of staying No. 1 when he gets to the U.S. Open.
McIlroy was equally intriguing. He started his week at Wentworth by announcing that he had broken off his engagement with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, right after the wedding invitations had gone out in the mail. McIlroy then birdied his last two holes and won the BMW PGA Championship.
It was an important win for the former No. 1 and 2-time major champion. He had not beaten a field that deep and strong since Dubai at the end of 2012, the sensational year that took him to No. 1 and made it look as though he would stay there.
Since then, he has gone through an equipment change and a management change. And right when it looked as though his game was trending in the right direction, he went through a public breakup of what had been a very public relationship.
McIlroy declined to answer one question about newspaper reports that he split up with Wozniacki over the phone saying that he was only talking about his golf. And with that win at Wentworth, golf became a fun topic of conversation again.
He had squandered good chances in Abu Dhabi and the Honda Classic, all while posting a string of top 10s. For him to win at Wentworth with that much scrutiny on his personal life gave him a life.
“I think I showed quite a lot of mental strength or focus or whatever you want to call it last week during the whole tournament,” he added. “I think mentally, it gave me a lot of confidence knowing that when I did get myself into contention, I could close it out, which I wasn’t able to do at Honda.
“And yeah, it gives me a lot of confidence going to the second half of the season.”