- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tiger Woods won’t take his knee for a pre-U.S. Open test drive.

Six weeks removed from a third career arthroscopic procedure on his leading, left knee, Woods confirmed yesterday he would skip this week’s Memorial tournament and delay his return to competition until the Open on June 12-15.

“I wasn’t ready [to go play this week],” Woods said yesterday at Congressional Country Club, where he again will act as playing host of the AT&T; National over the July 4 weekend. “I started my practice basically just recently. So going to Memorial that rusty, it wouldn’t have made any sense. I wasn’t sharp enough. …

“My knee is doing better, but the rehab is boring. It gets really old riding that bike, man. But everything is on schedule. I’m just trying to get this thing organized for the Open. And I’m right on schedule for that.”

Doubt would be the dominant sentiment were any other player to attempt a return from injury at what is arguably the season’s most grueling event. But skepticism has rarely kept company with Woods, who sports a reputation as a fitness fanatic, does his best major prep-work at home and boasts a dominant record at next month’s Open venue (Torrey Pines).

The 32-year-old has snared four consecutive Buick Invitational titles at the 7,643-yard, par-71 track and six overall PGA Tour victories at Torrey Pines since 1999. In fact, his last post-op return was at the suburban San Diego course in 2003 and resulted in a four-stroke victory.

“It’s not like I haven’t been down this road before,” said Woods, who hopes to add to his cache of 13 major victories at the Open. “So I know what it takes to win a tournament coming back from a procedure.”

Despite Woods’ latest tangle with the troublesome joint, he has played well through the pain. He followed three early season victories with a fifth-place finish at Doral and a runner-up performance at the Masters in spite of his balky knee.

“I made the decision [to have the surgery] probably two to three weeks prior to Augusta,” Woods said. “I couldn’t function anymore with what I was doing. It was not a fun way to play, moving around.”

Sentenced to relative inactivity during his convalescence, Woods has spent more time than ever with his daughter, Sam, who will celebrate her first birthday June 18.

“Sam is doing fantastic,” he said. “She is walking already. We have a little cut-down putter that she smoked me in the head with yesterday. It’s a good thing I have a hard head.”

But don’t think Woods is turning into a gimpy, old sentimentalist. A major adrenaline junky, Woods said the worst part of his six-week layoff has been the competitive void in his life.

“I miss it,” he said. “I miss mixing it up with the boys. I miss the heat of being in there, in contention, with everything on the line, trying to pull off a shot. That’s fun to me. That’s why I prepare, and that’s what I love to do. I’m really looking forward to the Open.”

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