Tiger Woods Says He Won’t Rush Return, Too Early to Predict Britsh Entry

Tiger Woods said he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to play in next month’s British Open and has no timetable for a return to tournament golf.

Woods has spent the past six weeks recovering from left knee and Achilles’ tendon injuries sustained at the Masters Tournament in April and aggravated at the Players Championship in May. He missed the U.S. Open two weeks ago and is sitting out this week’s AT&T National outside Philadelphia.

“Usually I set a timetable when I want to come back and play; this time I’m going to come back when I’m 100 percent,” Woods, 35, said during at a news conference in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, site of the AT&T National. “I don’t know when that’s going to be. That’s the frustrating thing.”

The British Open, the third major championship of the season, is scheduled for July 14-17 at Royal St. George’s Golf Club in Sandwich on the English coast, 77 miles (124 kilometers) southeast of London. Woods is a three-time winner, most recently in 2006.

While Woods isn’t playing at Aronimink Golf Club this week, he’s attending the U.S. PGA Tour event, which benefits his foundation.

Woods last played in a tournament on May 12, when he pulled out of the Players Championship after nine holes.

“Probably in retrospect it was a borderline call whether I should have played the Players,” said Woods, whose last full tournament round was at the Masters. “I wasn’t quite 100 percent and unfortunately I hurt myself there. This time around, it’s different.”

Open Hopes

A day after the Players Championship, Woods said he expected to be healthy enough to play in the U.S. Open. Nine days before that tournament in Bethesda, Maryland, Woods said he’d miss the event for the first time since 1994 and continue rehabilitation, choosing “short-term frustration for long-term gain.”

Woods today maintained that he won’t rush to return to competition. While he’s no longer wearing a walking boot or using crutches, Woods said he’s only putting now and hasn’t started hitting balls.

“They’re both healing, which is good,” Woods said of his knee and Achilles tendon. “But I still need to get both strengthened and explosive again. I’ve been through this process before, so I’m using that experience. The only difference is there’s no timetable. It’s open-ended.”

Woods, second to Jack Nicklaus with 14 major titles, hasn’t won a tournament since November 2009 and has fallen to 17th in the Official World Ranking. He held the No. 1 spot in the rankings for a record 281 weeks.

McIlroy ‘Cool’

Woods said it was “cool to see” 22-year-old Rory McIlroy win the U.S. Open by eight strokes and become the youngest major champion since Woods in 1997. McIlroy’s margin of victory at Congressional Country Club was the biggest at the U.S. Open since Woods’s 15-shot romp in 2000.

“That was seriously good playing,” Woods said. “It was cool to see that he had softer conditions and he was able to go low and was able to continue pushing it. That’s what’s fun -- when you have a lead and keep building it.”

McIlroy, from Northern Ireland, is favored by Las Vegas oddsmakers to win the British Open and told Sky Sports yesterday that “it’s a good time for me to win things” while Woods is seeking to recover his health and form.

Woods said today that McIlroy has a better swing than he did at the same age. Even so, Woods said he doesn’t have added incentive to return to competition because of the emergence of young players such as McIlroy.

“I feel like my best years are still ahead of me,” said Woods. “My motivation is to get back to where I can play where I know I can play and I’m feeling good again.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, at 8797 or matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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