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Tiger Woods feels like a million (not really)

Woods remains on crutches because of a knee injury, but he is doing all he can to get back by the U.S. Open.

May 24, 2011|By Jeff Shain
  • Tiger Woods shakes a friend's hand following a news conference at Aronimink Golf Club on Tuesday.
Tiger Woods shakes a friend's hand following a news conference at… (Michael Bryant / Associated…)

About 45 minutes before a scheduled meeting with reporters, Tiger Woods floated an idea Tuesday via his Twitter account.

"I'll donate one million dollars to [the Tiger Woods Foundation] if no one asks me about the leg," he offered.

That challenge lasted all of 65 seconds — long enough for Woods to make an opening statement and get a microphone to his first questioner.

And so the details began to dribble out: He has been on crutches and in a walking boot since his early exit from the Players Championship 12 days earlier. He won't hit golf balls until strength rehab on his left leg, probably next week.

And yes, the U.S. Open remains very much in his sights.

"I'm trying to do everything I can. All my docs have said it should be good to go," Woods said. "I've had four surgeries on [the knee], so obviously it's not what it was when I was little."

The U.S. Open tees off three weeks from Thursday at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. He classified himself as "doubtful" for next week's Memorial Tournament, though his timetable gives little indication he'll make the trip.

Tuesday's remarks, at a media day for this summer's AT&T National, were his first since departing the Players. He lasted just nine holes at TPC Sawgrass, where his knee flared up again on his opening tee shot.

By the time he told his playing partners to go on without him, Woods was walking so slowly that he was more than a minute behind in getting from the tee to his second shots.

Asked if he tried to come back too soon, Woods acknowledged, "Yeah, I probably did."

Woods' injury traces back to the third round of the Masters, when he sufferedg a sprained knee while hitting a shot from slippery footing atop pine straw on the 17th hole. He nonetheless tied for fourth after a closing 67, then didn't hit balls again until three days before the Players.

"I tried to play and unfortunately it didn't work out that well," he said. "That's why I've shut it down, been wearing a boot and been on crutches to try to give it ample rest."

Asked if doctors have brought up the prospect of surgery, Woods flatly stated: "Not once."

He did acknowledge the possibility he would not take his place at Congressional, though "I'm not going to say that I'm looking at it that way."

"I'm looking at it [that] with the proper treatment and the proper rehab, that I'll be ready," he added. "That's what I'm planning to do."

Woods, who fell out of the top 10 in the world rankings this week for the first time since 1997, has fought through injuries before to play the U.S. Open.

Told he had two stress fractures in his leg and needed reconstructive ACL surgery, Woods dismissed doctors' advice to skip the 2008 Open at Torrey Pines. He captured the most recent of his 14 major titles that week, beating Rocco Mediate in an epic 19-hole Monday playoff.

Asked to compare his current predicament to then, Woods called this one a "cakewalk."

And the million-dollar offer? Woods tweeted afterward that he'd "of course" donate the money anyway.

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