Tiger Woods pulled out of next week’s AT&T National Wednesday, citing the elbow injury that plagued him at last week’s U.S. Open and leaving Washington’s PGA Tour stop without its defending champion top attraction — the figure who essentially saved professional golf in the area — for the third time in the last six years.
Woods, who struggled to a tie for 32nd at Merion Golf Club – where he finished 13 over par as he shook his left arm after apparently painful shots from the rough – said he was evaluated by doctors after his return from the Open. He said the injury was an “elbow strain.”
“I have been advised to take a few weeks off, rest and undergo treatment,” Woods said in a statement posted on his website. “I’ll be ready to go for the British Open, and I’m looking forward to playing at Muirfield,” where the next major will be contensted in July.
“I would like to extend my regrets to AT&T, our sponsors and the fans in the Washington, D.C., area. The AT&T National means a lot to me and my foundation. It’s especially difficult not defending at my own tournament. It’s going to be a great event, and I look forward to being there to provide my support.”
Officials from the Tiger Woods Foundation, which runs the event and benefits from it, said Woods would hold a press conference at Congressional Country Club on July 26, the day before the event begins.
The impact of Woods’s injury is twofold for Washington-area fans. First, it deprives the AT&T National, which Woods and his team established under great duress in 2007, of its marquee figure. Woods, who won the title in 2009 and 2012, missed his own event in 2008, when he had a broken leg, and in 2011, when the tournament was played at Aronimink Golf Club outside Philadelphia and he had problems with an Achilles’ tendon. That year, he missed the U.S. and British Opens as well.
Secondly, the withdrawal brings into question Woods’s fitness for the rest of the summer. A winner of four tournaments on the PGA Tour this year, he said at the U.S. Open that he suffered the injury at the Players Championship in May – an event he won. But he was circumspect about the circumstances. He would not say in what round or on what hole he aggravated his elbow.
Woods was only scheduled to play at the AT&T National before the British Open July 18-21. His four wins have come in only nine starts on tour this year, but his last two events — a tie for 65th at the Memorial and the 13-over-par performance at the Open — were among his worst.
Now, there is a question as to how much his elbow bothered him in those two events. He first showed signs of a problem in the first round of the Open last Thursday, when he twice hit shots from the rough and winced. After he completed his first round on Friday, he only said that he felt “pain,” but said he would be able to compete even if the event hadn’t been a major. He shot rounds of 76 and 74 over the weekend to finish 12 shots back of champion Justin Rose.
Rose will now take the mantle from Woods as the top bill at Congressional. Even though he is playing this week in Hartford, he is committed to the AT&T National, which he won in 2010, and officials expect him to hold to that schedule. Masters champion Adam Scott is also due to play at Congressional, making it the first time in the event’s seven-year history that both the reigning Masters and U.S. Open champs have played.