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Rehabbing Woods rules himself out of U.S. Open

(Reuters) – Three-times champion Tiger Woods has ruled himself out of next month’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst in North Carolina as he recovers from back surgery, the second successive major championship he will miss this year.

The former world number one has been sidelined from competitive golf since late March after requiring treatment for a pinched nerve in his back that had troubled him for months, and was unable to compete at the Masters in April. “Unfortunately, I won’t be there because I’m not yet physically able to play competitive golf,” Woods said in a statement on his website on Wednesday, referring to the June 12-15 U.S. Open.

“The U.S. Open is very important to me, and I know it’s going to be a great week. Despite missing the first two majors (this year), and several other important tournaments, I remain very optimistic about this year and my future.” This will be the sixth major championship missed by Woods due to injury, and he remains stuck on his career tally of 14 wins, having not clinched one of golf’s blue riband events since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

Woods has not set a timetable for his likely return and could possibly also miss the year’s third major, the July 17-20 British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England.

The 38-year-old American has been increasingly plagued by injuries in recent seasons as the wear and tear of years on the tour have begun to take a toll. He failed to finish the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens in early March, quitting after 13 holes in his final round. The American then tweaked his back again on the last day of the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami just one week later. OPTED FOR SURGERY Woods pulled out of the Mar. 20-23 Arnold Palmer Invitational, a key lead-up tournament he has won eight times, in the hope that he could play at the Masters before he opted to undergo surgery on March 31. He said he risked further injury had he kept playing because of the repetitive motion from golf but that there should be no long-lasting effects from the surgery.

“It’s just because the nature of injuries that I’ve had before in the past,” Woods said earlier this year. “I’ve had knees and Achilles (injuries) and I’ve been through that. And I could play through those. “But this one, I just can’t do it. Back injuries are no joke. When people say they’ve felt debilitated when their back hurts, I understand what that feels like.” Woods’ lengthy history of injury began with a troublesome left knee, first operated on when he was a freshman at Stanford University in 1994. Three more operations on that knee have followed. He has also suffered injuries to his ankle and neck, his right and left Achilles tendons and fractures in his leg, which he defiantly played through on the way to victory at the 2008 U.S. Open after a 19-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate. Woods has missed two British Opens, one U.S. Open, one Masters and one PGA Championship since 2008 because of injuries, and will now add to that number next month. He is a three-time winner of the year’s second major, having triumphed at the U.S. Open in 2000, 2002 and 2008.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Rehabbing Woods rules himself out of U.S. Open

Tiger Woods to skip 2014 US Open

Los Angeles (AFP) – Tiger Woods will miss his second major championship of 2014 as he struggles to return to top form following back surgery earlier this year.

The 14-time major winner announced on his website Wednesday that he is skipping next month’s US Open while he continues his rehabilitation.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be there because I’m not yet physically able to play competitive golf,” Woods said.

“I’d like to convey my regrets to the USGA leadership, the volunteers and the fans that I won’t be at Pinehurst.”

“The US Open is very important to me, and I know it’s going to be a great week. Despite missing the first two majors, and several other important tournaments, I remain very optimistic about this year and my future,” he added.

Woods has not competed since the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March and this is the sixth major championship the American has missed because of injuries.

Woods shot a third round 66 at the WGC-Cadillac to vault back into contention but struggled with back pain in the final round on March 9. Three weeks later, he underwent microdiscectomy surgery to alleviate a pinched nerve in his back.

The 38-year-old also missed four months of the 2011 season with knee and Achilles injuries.

In 2008, Woods won the US Open at Torrey Pines golf course in San Diego while playing on a broken leg. He then underwent surgery that resulted in him being out for eight months and missing the PGA Championship and The Open Championship that season.

Last week, 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott surpassed Woods as the number one ranked player in the world. Woods is now the world number three behind Scott and Henrik Stenson.

Scott overtook Woods to claim the top spot for the first time, ending Woods’ latest reign at 60 weeks. Woods enjoyed 281 consecutive weeks atop the rankings from 2005 to 2010.

Woods has slipped to third but is expected to fall more spots as he remains absent from the tour.

Woods told reporters earlier this month that there was no timetable for his return.

“That has been the real question through all this. There is no date,” he said. “It’s not up to me. It’s not going to be up to me if I play. It’s up to my doctors.”

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Tiger Woods to skip 2014 US Open

Partners Scott, McIlroy hope to keep momentum going

Dublin (United States) (AFP) – World number one Adam Scott and two-time major champ Rory McIlroy, who are fresh off tournament victories, will tee off together in the opening round of the Memorial Tournament on Thursday.

Scott, who reached number one in the world last week for the first time in his career, won the Colonial tournament while McIlroy captured the BMW PGA Championship for his sixth European Tour title but first on European soil.

They will play the first two rounds of this week’s $6.2 million Memorial Tournament in a threesome that also includes Jason Day.

“I feel like this course sets up well for me and I am playing well,” Australia’s Scott said Wednesday. “I am going to try and keep the momentum going after last week.”

Indeed, last week helped validate his rise to the top of the ladder as he was playing for the first time since overtaking Tiger Woods for number one.

Scott says he didn’t want to be known as a one-week No. 1 wonder. So he made sure he got into a solid pre-tournament routine last week so that he would be able to handle the physical and mental challenges that come with trying to win a PGA tournament.

“All the things I did leading up certainly helped put me in the right mindset to play well last week,” he said. “It took a couple of days for it to show up on the weekend. But that is when it counts.

“Getting to No. 1 was such a journey and so much work went into it. I wasn’t going to settle for just staying there for one week.”

Former world number one McIlroy’s success came on the opposite side of the globe. But his impressive victory has been tempered somewhat by his recent breakup with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. McIlroy called off his engagement to Wozniacki a little over a week ago after the wedding invites had already been sent out.

Luckily for him, he was able to lose himself in the tournament at Wentworth and come out victorious.

“It is good to be here, obviously coming off the back of a win last week,” said McIlroy on Wednesday. “It gives me a lot of confidence coming into here and with the US Open in a couple week’s time.”

Their playing partner Day is making a return to competition after suffering a left thumb injury. Day has only made one start since winning the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship three months ago.

In another notable group, defending champ Matt Kuchar tees off with two former Memorial champs, Steve Stricker and Justin Rose.

Phil Mickelson will be joined for the first two rounds by fellow Americans Jordan Spieth and Bill Haas.

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Partners Scott, McIlroy hope to keep momentum going

Nicklaus says Tiger can win a record 19 majors, if healthy

(Reuters) – Tiger Woods has endured a victory drought of almost six years at the majors but Jack Nicklaus remains convinced that the former world number one is capable of winning at least five more over the next decade, if he stays healthy.

Woods, who has been sidelined from competitive golf since late March because of back surgery, needs a further five wins in golf’s grand slam events to surpass the record 18 career majors piled up by Nicklaus, his childhood idol.

“If he’s healthy, I think Tiger’s got 10-plus years to play top quality tournament golf,” Nicklaus told reporters on Wednesday, on the eve of this week’s Memorial Tournament which he hosts in Dublin, Ohio.

“I’ve said many times, he’s got a little over 40 tournaments to play the major championships, he’s only got to win five to pass my record. As good a player as he is, I don’t think that should be a big deal.

“But then again he’s gotta do it. Plus he’s also got to be healthy to be able to do it,” said the 74-year-old American, who has long been known as the ‘Golden Bear.’

Woods, 38, clinched the most recent of his 14 major wins in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, where he edged out fellow American Rocco Mediate after 19 extra holes.

He has since failed to add to that number, despite a few close calls along the way, and the aura of dominance he once enjoyed is a fading memory with the young guns of today holding no ‘Tiger’ fear.

“The first time that Tiger ever lost a tournament coming down the stretch was against Y.E. Yang,” Nicklaus said, referring to the 2009 PGA Championship where South Korean Yang Yong-eun stunningly overhauled Woods in the final round.

“It was the first time somebody challenged him and actually beat him. (Woods) will probably have more of those challenges because more young players are coming along. But that’s part of the game, and I think he expects that.”

Woods himself is still uncertain about his likely return to competitive golf as he continues to recover from treatment for a pinched nerve in his back that had troubled him for months.

He missed the Masters in April, after having surgery on March 31, and on Wednesday he ruled himself out of next month’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst, saying he was “not yet physically able to play competitive golf.”

That will be the sixth major championship missed by Woods due to injury, and there has to be some doubt over his fitness for the July 17-20 British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England.

On Wednesday, Woods made sure that he contacted Nicklaus by telephone to apologize for not being to able to compete at the Memorial Tournament, an elite PGA Tour event he has won five times.

“It was a very, very nice call, wishing me well (with) the tournament, sorry he couldn’t be here,” Nicklaus said. “He said he’s doing well, progressing well and he’s looking forward to getting back into the game. He misses it.”

Asked if Woods had given him any details on his likely return to competitive golf, Nicklaus smiled: “I didn’t ask him because I knew I was going to talk to you guys.”

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Nicklaus says Tiger can win a record 19 majors, if healthy

Golf-Scott feels on top of the world at Muirfield Village

May 28 (Reuters) – In more ways than one, Adam Scott feels on top of the world going into this week’s Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio where he has always loved the leafy Muirfield Village Golf Club layout.

The Australian could hardly be playing better, having clinched the Crowne Plaza Invitational in a playoff on Sunday, and he will be making his second consecutive appearance on the PGA Tour since replacing Tiger Woods as world number one.

“It’s great to be back here,” Scott told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s a course I like very much. I feel like it sets up well for me and I’m playing well. I’m going to try and keep the momentum going after last week.”

Asked how satisfying it had been to win a tournament in his first week at the top of the golf rankings, Scott replied: “It’s satisfying, absolutely.

“But I think all the things I did leading up certainly helped put me in the right mindset to play well last week. It took a couple days for it to show up really on the weekend, but that’s when it counts.

“And I think getting to number one was such a journey and so much work went into it, I wasn’t going to settle for just staying there for a week.”

Scott clinched his 11th title on the PGA Tour by beating American Jason Dufner on the third extra hole at Colonial Country Club after starting the final round two shots off the lead.

The 33-year-old readily conceded, though, that he had given very little thought as to how he would try to maintain his place as world number one.

“When you’re a kid dreaming of being number one and you’re out on tour when you’re (aged) 19, 20, you think you’re going to roll into it and it’s not really the case all the time,” Scott said.

“It does happen for some, but it wasn’t the case for me. A lot’s gone into it. And I felt I was No. 1 by such a small margin last week, it was motivation just to stay there for another week.

“I’ll have to take it week by week and run with that, because it worked last week. It certainly was a fun experience last week to be number one, and then to win the tournament will make it a pretty sweet memory for my career.”

Seven of the world’s top 10 players are competing at Muirfield Village this week and Scott will tee off in high-profile company in Thursday’s opening round.

The Australian will play with compatriot Jason Day, the world number seven, and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, the former world number one. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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Golf-Scott feels on top of the world at Muirfield Village

Mickelson upbeat about game with U.S. Open approaching

(Reuters) – Phil Mickelson heads into this week’s Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio optimistic about his game and his prospects for next month’s U.S. Open, despite having missed two cuts in his last three starts on the PGA Tour.

The American left-hander has spent the past fortnight working hard in practice and believes that his touch around the greens, usually so brilliant, is back to its best after he struggled earlier this season.

“I really had a good couple of weeks back home,” British Open champion Mickelson told reporters at Muirfield Village Golf Club on Wednesday while preparing for Thursday’s opening round at the PGA Tour event hosted by Jack Nicklaus.

“I had a chance to spend some time with (swing coach) Butch (Harmon). I had a chance to spend some time with (short game coach) Dave Pelz. I’m excited about these next three weeks.

“We’ll see how it goes. My short game right now, which has not been great this year … it feels good. So I’m curious to see how it goes this week.”

Mickelson, who sandwiched missed cuts at the Masters and the Players Championship around a tie for 11th at the Wells Fargo Championship in his last three starts, described the fine line that marked out a sharp short game.

“It’s such a small difference between getting it inside three feet and getting inside six feet,” said the 43-year-old, popularly known as ‘Phil the Thrill’ for his bold and often cavalier approach to golf.

“Yet it’s a huge and important difference in scoring. The touch and just reading the lie and getting it in contact just right, all those little things, it’s the first thing to go when you’re not playing well.

“And when you’re not playing well, it’s the last thing to work on. Right now my short game feels really sharp. I have a much better feeling about these coming two weeks before the (U.S.) Open than I’ve had in a long time.”

CAREER GRAND SLAM

Mickelson, who clinched his fifth major title at last year’s British Open, would complete a career grand slam of the four majors by winning the U.S. Open, where he has been runner-up a record six times.

This year’s edition will be played from June 12-15 at Pinehurst in North Carolina, where he finished second in the 1999 Open.

“There’s such a difference in the way I view the few major champions that have won all four,” said Mickelson. “And I’m fortunate and I’m honored to be part of that long list of great players that have won three of the four.

“That’s great. But I would look at my career, which is all I care about, in a whole different light if I were able to get that fourth one.”

Mickelson feels confident about his lead-up to the U.S. Open, the second major of the year.

“I do think the results are going to come if I just play well,” he said. “I’m not worried about finishing first or second or top 10 or what have you, but building momentum, building confidence in my game over the next couple of weeks.

“Now, I do feel after the last 10 days of practice that my game is sharper than it has been all year. If I don’t have the results, I’ve got to look at something else, because I feel like I’ve done what I needed to do to get my game sharp.”

Mickelson has been grouped with fellow Americans Jordan Spieth and Bill Haas for the first two rounds at Muirfield Village.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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Mickelson upbeat about game with U.S. Open approaching

Golf-Mickelson upbeat about game with U.S. Open approaching

May 28 (Reuters) – Phil Mickelson heads into this week’s Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio optimistic about his game and his prospects for next month’s U.S. Open, despite having missed two cuts in his last three starts on the PGA Tour.

The American left-hander has spent the past fortnight working hard in practice and believes that his touch around the greens, usually so brilliant, is back to its best after he struggled earlier this season.

“I really had a good couple of weeks back home,” British Open champion Mickelson told reporters at Muirfield Village Golf Club on Wednesday while preparing for Thursday’s opening round at the PGA Tour event hosted by Jack Nicklaus.

“I had a chance to spend some time with (swing coach) Butch (Harmon). I had a chance to spend some time with (short game coach) Dave Pelz. I’m excited about these next three weeks.

“We’ll see how it goes. My short game right now, which has not been great this year … it feels good. So I’m curious to see how it goes this week.”

Mickelson, who sandwiched missed cuts at the Masters and the Players Championship around a tie for 11th at the Wells Fargo Championship in his last three starts, described the fine line that marked out a sharp short game.

“It’s such a small difference between getting it inside three feet and getting inside six feet,” said the 43-year-old, popularly known as ‘Phil the Thrill’ for his bold and often cavalier approach to golf.

“Yet it’s a huge and important difference in scoring. The touch and just reading the lie and getting it in contact just right, all those little things, it’s the first thing to go when you’re not playing well.

“And when you’re not playing well, it’s the last thing to work on. Right now my short game feels really sharp. I have a much better feeling about these coming two weeks before the (U.S.) Open than I’ve had in a long time.”

CAREER GRAND SLAM

Mickelson, who clinched his fifth major title at last year’s British Open, would complete a career grand slam of the four majors by winning the U.S. Open, where he has been runner-up a record six times.

This year’s edition will be played from June 12-15 at Pinehurst in North Carolina, where he finished second in the 1999 Open.

“There’s such a difference in the way I view the few major champions that have won all four,” said Mickelson. “And I’m fortunate and I’m honoured to be part of that long list of great players that have won three of the four.

“That’s great. But I would look at my career, which is all I care about, in a whole different light if I were able to get that fourth one.”

Mickelson feels confident about his lead-up to the U.S. Open, the second major of the year.

“I do think the results are going to come if I just play well,” he said. “I’m not worried about finishing first or second or top 10 or what have you, but building momentum, building confidence in my game over the next couple of weeks.

“Now, I do feel after the last 10 days of practice that my game is sharper than it has been all year. If I don’t have the results, I’ve got to look at something else, because I feel like I’ve done what I needed to do to get my game sharp.”

Mickelson has been grouped with fellow Americans Jordan Spieth and Bill Haas for the first two rounds at Muirfield Village. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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Golf-Mickelson upbeat about game with U.S. Open approaching

Golf-Nicklaus says Tiger can win a record 19 majors, if healthy

May 28 (Reuters) – Tiger Woods has endured a victory drought of almost six years at the majors but Jack Nicklaus remains convinced that the former world number one is capable of winning at least five more over the next decade, if he stays healthy.

Woods, who has been sidelined from competitive golf since late March because of back surgery, needs a further five wins in golf’s grand slam events to surpass the record 18 career majors piled up by Nicklaus, his childhood idol.

“If he’s healthy, I think Tiger’s got 10-plus years to play top quality tournament golf,” Nicklaus told reporters on Wednesday, on the eve of this week’s Memorial Tournament which he hosts in Dublin, Ohio.

“I’ve said many times, he’s got a little over 40 tournaments to play the major championships, he’s only got to win five to pass my record. As good a player as he is, I don’t think that should be a big deal.

“But then again he’s gotta do it. Plus he’s also got to be healthy to be able to do it,” said the 74-year-old American, who has long been known as the ‘Golden Bear.’

Woods, 38, clinched the most recent of his 14 major wins in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, where he edged out fellow American Rocco Mediate after 19 extra holes.

He has since failed to add to that number, despite a few close calls along the way, and the aura of dominance he once enjoyed is a fading memory with the young guns of today holding no ‘Tiger’ fear.

“The first time that Tiger ever lost a tournament coming down the stretch was against Y.E. Yang,” Nicklaus said, referring to the 2009 PGA Championship where South Korean Yang Yong-eun stunningly overhauled Woods in the final round.

“It was the first time somebody challenged him and actually beat him. (Woods) will probably have more of those challenges because more young players are coming along. But that’s part of the game, and I think he expects that.”

Woods himself is still uncertain about his likely return to competitive golf as he continues to recover from treatment for a pinched nerve in his back that had troubled him for months.

He missed the Masters in April, after having surgery on March 31, and on Wednesday he ruled himself out of next month’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst, saying he was “not yet physically able to play competitive golf.”

That will be the sixth major championship missed by Woods due to injury, and there has to be some doubt over his fitness for the July 17-20 British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England.

On Wednesday, Woods made sure that he contacted Nicklaus by telephone to apologise for not being to able to compete at the Memorial Tournament, an elite PGA Tour event he has won five times.

“It was a very, very nice call, wishing me well (with) the tournament, sorry he couldn’t be here,” Nicklaus said. “He said he’s doing well, progressing well and he’s looking forward to getting back into the game. He misses it.”

Asked if Woods had given him any details on his likely return to competitive golf, Nicklaus smiled: “I didn’t ask him because I knew I was going to talk to you guys.” (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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Golf-Nicklaus says Tiger can win a record 19 majors, if healthy

UPDATE 2-Golf-Rehabbing Woods rules himself out of U.S. Open

* Says not ‘physically able to play competitive golf’

* Marks sixth major missed by Woods due to injury (Adds further detail)

May 28 (Reuters) – Three-times champion Tiger Woods has ruled himself out of next month’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst in North Carolina as he recovers from back surgery, the second successive major championship he will miss this year.

The former world number one has been sidelined from competitive golf since late March after requiring treatment for a pinched nerve in his back that had troubled him for months, and was unable to compete at the Masters in April.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be there because I’m not yet physically able to play competitive golf,” Woods said in a statement on his website on Wednesday, referring to the June 12-15 U.S. Open.

“The U.S. Open is very important to me, and I know it’s going to be a great week. Despite missing the first two majors (this year), and several other important tournaments, I remain very optimistic about this year and my future.”

This will be the sixth major championship missed by Woods due to injury, and he remains stuck on his career tally of 14 wins, having not clinched one of golf’s blue riband events since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

Woods has not set a timetable for his likely return and could possibly also miss the year’s third major, the July 17-20 British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England.

The 38-year-old American has been increasingly plagued by injuries in recent seasons as the wear and tear of years on the tour have begun to take a toll.

He failed to finish the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens in early March, quitting after 13 holes in his final round.

The American then tweaked his back again on the last day of the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami just one week later.

OPTED FOR SURGERY

Woods pulled out of the Mar. 20-23 Arnold Palmer Invitational, a key lead-up tournament he has won eight times, in the hope that he could play at the Masters before he opted to undergo surgery on March 31.

He said he risked further injury had he kept playing because of the repetitive motion from golf but that there should be no long-lasting effects from the surgery.

“It’s just because the nature of injuries that I’ve had before in the past,” Woods said earlier this year. “I’ve had knees and Achilles (injuries) and I’ve been through that. And I could play through those.

“But this one, I just can’t do it. Back injuries are no joke. When people say they’ve felt debilitated when their back hurts, I understand what that feels like.”

Woods’ lengthy history of injury began with a troublesome left knee, first operated on when he was a freshman at Stanford University in 1994. Three more operations on that knee have followed.

He has also suffered injuries to his ankle and neck, his right and left Achilles tendons and fractures in his leg, which he defiantly played through on the way to victory at the 2008 U.S. Open after a 19-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate.

Woods has missed two British Opens, one U.S. Open, one Masters and one PGA Championship since 2008 because of injuries, and will now add to that number next month.

He is a three-time winner of the year’s second major, having triumphed at the U.S. Open in 2000, 2002 and 2008. (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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UPDATE 2-Golf-Rehabbing Woods rules himself out of U.S. Open

Tiger Woods to miss US Open

Los Angeles (AFP) – Tiger Woods, struggling to return to top form after undergoing back surgery, will not play in the 2014 US Open next month, he announced on his website Wednesday.

The 14-time major winner has not competed since the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March and this is the sixth major championship the American has missed because of injuries.

“Unfortunately, I won’t be there because I’m not yet physically able to play competitive golf,” Woods said.

“I’d like to convey my regrets to the USGA leadership, the volunteers and the fans that I won’t be at Pinehurst.

“The US Open is very important to me, and I know it’s going to be a great week. Despite missing the first two majors, and several other important tournaments, I remain very optimistic about this year and my future.”

Woods shot a third round 66 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship to vault back into contention but struggled with back pain in the final round on March 9.

He also missed four months of the 2011 season with knee and Achilles injuries.

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Tiger Woods to miss US Open

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