Tiger Woods hopes elbow will be ‘good enough’ to play British Open

Drew Hallowell

Woods says he pushed his strained elbow to the limits at Merion, which could affect how he plays at Muirfield.

Tiger Woods, disappointed to miss his own AT&T National tournament this week at Congressional Country Club due to an elbow strain, said Wednesday his health will be “good enough” to let him compete in the British Open in three weeks.

“In a perfect world, I’m dancing right now and doing 360 dunks,” Woods said. “But that’s not going to happen, so I would like to be 100 percent, but I don’t know. It depends how the body heals and we’ll see how it goes.”

Woods, certainly no stranger to injury -- what with his oft-repaired left knee, Achilles tendon, and neck woes -- reiterated that he hurt his elbow at The Players Championship. He added that he wished he had not tried to play through the pain at the Memorial prior to the U.S. Open, where he aggravated the condition with several shots out of the heavy rough at Merion Golf Club.

"I pushed it pretty good at the Open to play through it, made it worse by hitting the ball out of the rough, and eventually got to a point where I wasn’t able to play here. I'm listening to my doctors and not touching a club," said Woods, who ran through a litany of treatments for his aching joint, including electrical stimulation, ultrasound, ice, soft-tissue massage, and anti-inflammatories. "There's a difference between being hurt and being injured. You can play hurt, but playing injured can sideline you for a while.”

Woods, whose worst overall score in relation to par (13-over) as a professional at Merion recalled the highest actual number he’s ever posted as a pro -- an 81 at Muirfield in the 2002 Open Championship -- was philosophical about the blow Mother Nature dealt to his chances that year to win the Grand Slam.

“It’s just part of the deal when you play over there. That’s the beauty of playing the Open Championship,” he said. “You can have two early tee times ... and get the worst end of the weather, or you can [have] the late tee time [with] perfect weather coming in ... I just happened to be at that time when we got the worst of it right when we started.”

Replaying part of the round for the media, Woods noted that he and playing partner Mark O’Meara were about to hit the links when “it just hit."

“You could see this wall of rain coming in,” he said.

It got so nasty and cold, with wind chills in the 30s, that Woods, who hit 6- and 7-irons approaching the par-5 fifth hole before, needed his driver and two 2-irons to reach the green during the worst of the weather.

Surprisingly, only one question came up about Nick Faldo’s recent comment that Woods was "not in a good mental place." The 14-time major champion responded with a slight shake of his head, almost a defiant glare, and the remark that, “I’ve won four times.”

With his health once again a concern, it remains to be seen if and/or when Woods will win again this season, with the most important near-term question for the golfer still searching for that elusive 15th major is whether he’ll be able to contend at Muirfield with a bad wing.

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