JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Tiger Woods pulled out of the U.S. Open yesterday because of lingering issues with his left leg, leaving him uncertain how soon he can resume his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record for major titles.
It will be the first time Woods has missed the U.S. Open since 1994, when he had just graduated high school.
"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 on his website. "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."
Woods said he hoped to be ready for the AT & T National, which starts June 30 at Aronimink, and the next two majors. Then again, he said 2 weeks ago he would do everything possible to be ready for the U.S. Open.
"We're very disappointed that he won't be playing in the National Open," USGA executive director Mike Davis said, whom Woods called yesterday morning. "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."
The U.S. Open starts June 16 at Congressional, where Woods won the AT & T National 2 years ago.
Woods hasn't won since the 2009 Australian Masters, a stretch of 22 tournaments. He not only lost his No. 1 ranking late last year, he has plunged to No. 15 in the world.
Woods announced his decision on Twitter: "Not playing in US Open. Very disappointed. Short-term frustration for long-term gain."
He had said in his most recent press conference that his injury was "not the doomsday that some of the press members are writing about." Some in his camp believe if he had skipped The Players Championship, his left leg would have been fully healed perhaps in time for the Memorial, which he missed last week.
"It's been a frustrating and difficult year, but I'm committed to my longterm health," Woods said. "I want to thank the fans for their encouragement and support. I am truly grateful and will be back playing when I can."
Woods is nursing injuries to his left knee ligaments and left Achilles', and his Achilles' is believed to be giving him more trouble.
"My man is hurting," Arjun Atwal, a close friend and frequent practice partner, said last week at the Memorial. "He's in a boot, he's on crutches. Not doing good."
The most recent of four surgeries on Woods' left knee came a week after the 2008 U.S. Open, which Woods won in a playoff for his 14th major. He had reconstructive surgery and was out for eight months, then returned and won seven times the following year before his personal life imploded on Thanksgiving night in 2009.
Woods was tied for the lead at the turn in the final round of the Masters this year and wound up in a tie for fourth. But he said he hurt his knee and Achilles' hitting from an awkward stance in the pine straw on the 17th hole of the third round at Augusta National, and he was limping toward the finish on Sunday. He described it as a "minor injury" in April.
Woods sat out the Wells Fargo Championship, then tried to play in The Players Championship, only to withdraw at 6-over par after nine holes because of what he called a chain reaction of pain in his knee, Achilles' and eventually his calf. He later said he tried to come back too early.