Woods’ injury list grows ever longer

Tiger Woods is lucky golf is not a contact sport.

Though it’s true golfers suffer from injuries, too, there are football players who haven’t spent as much time on the disabled list over the years as Woods; ironic because he’s among the best-conditioned athletes in golf.

The world No. 1’s latest injury — a strain in his left elbow — is keeping him off the course until the British Open next month at Muirfield. But even by then, Woods acknowledged on Wednesday, he’s not likely to be 100 percent.

At a news conference at the AT&T National — which benefits his foundation and where he would’ve been defending champion had he not pulled out — Woods said he’d be “GED” for the Open, which it turns out in Woods-speak translates into “good enough.”

That’s not exactly heartening news for a man coming off a disappointing US Open and still searching for that elusive 15th major victory.

Among the injuries Woods has suffered from over the years have been multiple problems with his left knee and with both Achilles and a bulging disk in his neck.

This is the first time he has had elbow problems — or, more accurately, the first time he has acknowledged having an issue with his elbow. That is a pertinent observation because it’s been one of the stranger facts of Woods’ career that he hasn’t been very forthcoming when it comes to injuries.

“I played with a lot (of injuries) in my early 20s, and no one ever knew about it,” he admitted on Wednesday. “I just didn’t play in certain tournaments. I took a few weeks off here and there, and that was the end of it.

“But I played a few events where I really shouldn’t have played, and it caused some damage. There’s a difference between being hurt and being injured. It’s a delicate balance. I know what it’s like to play both (ways), unfortunately. You can play hurt, but playing injured, it can sideline you for a while.

“I’ve gone through that. I’ve tried to come back when I was still injured, and I’ve cost myself a number of months where I haven’t been able to compete and play out here and do the thing I love to do, which is play against these guys out here.”

Woods first showed signs of discomfort in his left arm at the US Open on Merion’s first hole when hitting out of the rough. After play ended because of darkness on that weather-interrupted opening day, however, he insisted everything was “fine.”

But he later admitted he had a problem with the elbow since The Players, which he won. When he was asked when the injury occurred, Woods dodged the question.

It should be said that he exhibited no signs of pain at either The Players, in mid-May, or at the Memorial in June, where he finished tied for 65th. Indeed, at the Memorial, his long game was good; it was his chipping and putting that were abysmal.

On Wednesday, Woods expanded on how he hurt the elbow.

“It wasn’t a single shot that did it,” he said. “It was just playing there, and it didn’t feel good then early in the week, but I pushed through it. It progressively just got worse, got to a point where I was starting to struggle a little bit.”

When asked whether he shouldn’t have participated in The Players — where he was defending champion — Woods answered: “It would’ve been better, yes. I pushed it pretty good at the Open to play it and 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.”

He said he is listening “to my docs and not touching a club. We’re treating it, and eventually I’ll start the strengthening process of it. Then start hitting balls to get up to speed for the British.”

Woods would like to be fully ready to go for the year’s third major, he said, but he didn’t sound particularly hopeful.

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