Tiger Woods has a minor injury to his left knee and Achilles' tendon that will keep him out of the Wells Fargo Championship next week, raising more questions that his health might be the biggest obstacle in his chase of Jack Nicklaus' record.
Woods said on his website Tuesday that he hurt himself hitting a shot during the third round of the Masters. It's the fourth time he has missed a tournament because of his left knee. Woods did not say when he might return, but he hopes to be back in a few weeks.
"This is precautionary. We're not at all concerned," said Mark Steinberg, his agent at IMG. "He's just listening to his doctors, which is kind of nice. He certainly didn't listen to them before the U.S. Open in 2008."
Woods won that U.S. Open in a playoff for his 14th major. He hasn't won a major since then, leaving him four behind the record 18 professional majors won by Nicklaus.
Steinberg said Woods has been in a protective boot when he's moving around and has not hit a shot since the Masters. He said Woods considered playing the Wells Fargo until Tuesday.
Woods won at Quail Hollow in 2007 and had not finished worse than 11th in four appearances until a year ago when he missed the cut with his highest 36-hole score.
The following week is The Players Championship, which Woods won in 2001, although it is not among his favourite courses. He has finished in the top 10 only four times in 13 appearances and withdrew from the final round a year ago with a neck injury.
Steinberg said there was a "reasonable chance" Woods will be at The Players Championship.
"We'll do the same next week, do an early to midweek test to see if it's good enough where he can be hitting the ball," he said.
Mild MCL sprain
Woods described this injury as minor — a mild sprain of his medial collateral ligament in the left knee, along with a mild strain to his left Achilles. Woods said the injury occurred when he had to squat to play a shot from under the Eisenhower tree left of the 17th fairway.
His left foot got caught in the pine straw as the momentum of the swing carried him backward. Woods hit into a front bunker and saved par on his way to a 74, then shot 31 on the front nine Sunday to tie for the lead. He wound up tied for fourth, and he appeared to be limping coming to the 18th green.
Woods, who held a series of clinics in Asia the week after the Masters, said he later sought a medical evaluation. He said doctors have advised rest and cold-water therapy, along with soft tissue treatment that is to begin this week.
"I personally contacted tournament officials and expressed my regret in not being able to play," Woods said. "This is an outstanding event, but I must follow doctors' orders to get better."
Woods also missed Quail Hollow in 2006 when his father died and in 2008 while recovering from knee surgery.
"Apologies to tourney & fans, but working hard to get healthy," he said on Twitter.
His health is becoming an issue with each year. Woods already has had four operations on his left knee, dating to his freshman year at Stanford to remove two benign tumors and scar issues. His most recent surgery was after winning the U.S. Open in 2008, and he wound up missing the next eight months after his left knee was rebuilt.
When he returned from a sex scandal last year at the Masters, Woods revealed that he had ruptured the Achilles in his right leg in December 2008, two months before he came back from the knee surgery. Woods had a cortisone shot in his right ankle last December.
Woods, who has fallen to a No. 6 world ranking, has not won since the Australian Masters in November 2009, the longest drought of his career. Eleven majors have been played since he last won, the longest he has gone without winning.
Nicklaus holds the record of 18 professional majors, a mark that once looked to be easily within Woods' reach.