Woods, on crutches, expects to play in US Open

Tiger Woods says he’ll be ready to go for the U.S. Open.

Good thing for Woods there’s time to get healthy.

The golfing great hasn’t hit a ball in about two weeks. Woods

needs crutches and a walking boot for relief on his aching left

leg. He won’t even start leg training until the end of next

week.

But Woods expects to tee off at the U.S. Open June 16-19 at

Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

”You just play through these things,” Woods said. ”There’s a

difference between being in pain and being injured.”

That’s why Woods has shut himself down to prepare for the

major.

Woods is bothered by pain in his left knee, left Achilles’

tendon, tightening in his calf, and has a sore lower back. He says

doctors have not mentioned leg surgery. But he doubts he’ll play

the Memorial next week in Dublin, Ohio.

Woods said he’ll start training by the end of next week. How his

leg responds will determine when he can start hitting balls again –

all but ruling out the Memorial.

”I’ve had four surgeries on it,” Woods said. ”Obviously, it’s

not what it was when I was little.”

That means Woods would go to the U.S. Open with little

competition, although this is nothing new for him. In 2008, he had

arthroscopic surgery after the Masters and didn’t play again until

the U.S. Open. Doctors discovered a double stress fracture in his

left tibia in the weeks before the major. Going against his

doctor’s advice, Woods not only played the U.S. Open, he won it at

Torrey Pines in a 19-hole playoff.

Now, he says his left leg is not nearly as bad as it was

then.

His golf, however, is a different story.

In the 11 tournaments Woods played before the U.S. Open, he won

eight times, was runner-up twice and didn’t finish out of the top

five. In the 11 tournaments before this U.S. Open, he has only five

finishes in the top 10.

Woods said he was more worried about his health in 2008.

”I’m a lot better off,” Woods said. ”I feel that in the next

week or so, I can start getting back toward that and start

practicing pain free. That’s where I’m at.

Woods spoke Tuesday at Aronimink Golf Club to promote the

upcoming AT&T National.

Woods withdrew after only nine holes this month at The Players

Championship. He also fell out of the top 10 rankings for the first

time in 14 years.

He has been No. 1 for 623 weeks in his career, by far the

longest of any golfer since the rankings began in 1986. He had been

No. 1 from June 2005 until Lee Westwood of England supplanted him

last November.

”I haven’t played. It’s one of the reasons I’ve fallen as far

as I have,” Woods said. ”When I did play, I haven’t played well.

Winning takes care of all of that.”

He acknowledged he did come back too early for The Players

Championship. He hurt himself on the opening tee shot at Sawgrass.

Woods’ status was borderline for the tournament to begin with, but

he pressed on and did further damage. He won’t risk additional

injury to the leg.

”It’d certainly be nice to come up here and play practice

rounds,” he said, ”and do all the other prep I do for the

majors.”

Not a chance this week, even on a gorgeous Tuesday.

Woods posted on Twitter that he would donate $1 million to his

foundation if no reporters asked him about his leg. There was no

chance of that on the very first question. Woods later posted on

Twitter he would donate the money anyway.

Dan Gelston can be reached at http://twitter.com/apgelston