Monday, May 10, 2010
Updated: May 11, 10:24 AM ET
Tiger says neck injury, crash unrelated
By Kevin Maguire
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- A day after withdrawing from the Players Championship, Tiger Woods stated there was no connection between his neck injury and his Nov. 27 car accident that sparked the now-infamous sex scandal.
In suburban Philadelphia promoting the July 1-4 AT&T National, the world's No. 1-ranked player said he first felt the injury two weeks before the Masters, where Woods made his return after a self-imposed exile. Woods said that in his preparations for Augusta, he ramped up too quickly from his four-month layoff and that caused the injury. Since that time, he's suffered through flare-ups that have been treated with physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medicine.
Woods said the anti-inflammatory drugs have not helped. He plans to have an MRI when he returns to Orlando, Fla.
"I'm at a point now where I just can't go anymore," he said.
"I want to practice, I want to play, I want to compete, but this is not allowing me to do the things that I need to do on my golf swing to hit the proper shots. I need to get to where I can do that again."
He said his schedule is "up in the air" and could be based on what is uncovered in the MRI.
Woods insisted he can deal with the pain, which he feels in the right side of his neck, but can't deal with the spasms that affect his ability to turn his head.
"It is really frustrating, there's no doubt, because I know what I'm capable of doing," Woods said. "I just need to get this thing healed up so that I can start working, start spending the time it takes to get better. I haven't been able to do that. I've only been able to work in spurts."
Woods said it wasn't until this weekend that he felt he needed more serious treatment.
"It's possible one of the reasons I think this thing flared up is because I wasn't conditioned to it," he said. "I'd been away from the game for such a long time, then came back and ramped up really quickly in order to try and play the Masters. The body wasn't quite ready for that."
After tying for fourth in the Masters, Woods looked lost on the course as he missed the cut at Quail Hollow on April 30 with the highest 36-hole score of his career. Barely making the cut at the Players Championship, Woods' game has appeared in tatters, drawing criticism from all corners of the golf world. When asked about how he's handling this period in his golfing career, Woods didn't back down.
"I've dealt with other things in my life, where people said that I was pretty much done," he said. "So the whole idea is just to keep fighting every day. It's all I can do is just fight today."
Woods spoke for more than 25 minutes to assembled media and other invited guests Monday.
As for Woods' future plans for tournament golf, he was queried about whether or not he'll tee it up before next month's U.S. Open as well as the AT&T National over July 4 weekend. He was noncommittal on all fronts, pending the results of his MRI. He also said it was premature to answer whether or not his family would be attending any events with him.
Woods is the defending champion of the AT&T National. The PGA Tour event had been previously held at Congressional Country Club. The tournament moved to Philadelphia for 2010 and 2011 and will be played at Aronimink Golf Club for two years as Congressional undergoes renovation before hosting the 2011 U.S. Open.
Woods said he has yet to tee it up at Aronimink and that he expects it to reach 7,200 yards and will play as a par-70.
In the wide-ranging news conference, Woods also addressed many topics, including recent criticism by TV analyst Johnny Miller, current issues with his swing, the state of his mental game on the course, as well as his frustration with injuries as he gets older.
In November, Woods was briefly hospitalized after he crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant and a tree outside his home, resulting in a sore neck and a cut lip.
Woods spent some of his time at the Players Championship denying speculation that he is about to leave Hank Haney, his swing coach since 2004. He said at Aronimink that he was working on his swing.
"I talked to Hank about some of the stuff. We're still working on it," he said. "We have a lot of work to do. I can't make the movements that I made before because of the neck. I need to get healthy to play the proper way."
Later Monday, Haney announced that he was resigning as Woods' swing coach.
"I have informed Tiger Woods this evening that I will no longer be his coach," Haney said in a statement posted on his website. "I would like to thank Tiger for the opportunity that I have had to work with him over the past [six-plus] years."
Kevin Maguire is the golf editor for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.