Tiger Woods quest for a 15th Major will be put on hold -- at least until the British Open. Woods announced on his website that that he is skipping next week's U.S. Open.
Woods has been slow to heal from from injuries to his left knee and left Achilles. The U.S. Open will be played next week at Congressional Country Club outside Washington, D.C.
"I am extremely disappointed that I won’t be playing in the U.S. Open, but it’s time for me to listen to my doctors and focus on the future," Woods said in a statement posted on his website. Woods has failed to win any tournament in over 21 months and has gone through a messy divorce that made tabloids almost as much money as his ex.
Wood's single-minded goal as a golfer has been to break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 Major wins.
Tiger is at 14 Majors, and while a few years back it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that he would pass Nicklaus, age (35) and injuries are begining to take its toll.
The list of golfers who have won more than 4 Majors after the age of 35 is a short one: Ben Hogan (8), Nicklaus (6) and Sam Snead (5).
While Woods continues his chase of Nicklaus and history, he no doubt uses Hogan as template. Hogan - like Woods - was single-minded in his desire to be he best ball striker alive. Like Woods, Hogan cared little about who else was playing or for the niceties of the game. Hitting the golf ball as pure as possible was the goal. While Woods is battling the record book and injuries, he isn't facing near the circumstances Hogan did.
Hogan's record is even more amazing when you take into account that most of his Major wins came after he survived a horrific car accident outside of Van Horn, TX. Hogan and his wife were hit headon by a Greyhound bus that pulled out around a truck on a foggy night. The impact of the crash drove the engine into the driver's seat, the steering wheel into the back seat. That Hogan lived was a minor miracle. His legs were battered to such an extent that the idea of playing 72 holes of championship golf was deemed out of the question by his doctors. Hogan refused to believe the doctors and began a painful rehabilitation process that would follow him the rest of his career. Within a year Hogan was back on the tour. He would need 3 hours to stretch and wrap his legs before every round, and then another hour afterwards to soak away the pain.
Sixteen months after the near-fatal accident, Hogan won the U.S. Open at Merion in Pennsylvania.
Ben Hogan strikes the most famous 1-iron in golf. This shot set up a three way playoff for the 1950 U.S. Open Title. Hogan won 6 of his 9 Major Championships after the car accident
Woods is also battling a balky putter as well as injuries. There is even some talk among the pros that they expect Woods to simply shut it down for the 2011 season sometime soon and just concentrate on re-working his swing for 2012. Tiger's stalking of the Golden Bear will have to wait.