BETHESDA, June 7, 2011 (AFP) - Former World No. 1 Tiger Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record of 18 won by Jack Nicklaus, said Tuesday that he will not play in next week's US Open golf tournament.
Woods suffered a sprained left knee and strained left Achilles tendon in the third round of the Masters in April and withdrew in pain from last month's US PGA Players Championship after completing only nine holes.
"I am extremely disappointed that I won't be playing in the US Open, but it's time for me to listen to my doctors and focus on the future," Woods said in a posting on his website.
"I was hopeful that I could play, but if I did, I risk further damage to my left leg. My knee and Achilles tendon are not fully healed."
Woods made the announcement with a posting on his Twitter microblogging website, saying "Not playing in US Open. Very disappointed. Short-term frustration for long-term gain."
The injuries have prevented Woods from putting in the practice time he needs to properly prepare for the 111th US Open, which begins a week from Thursday at Congressional Country Club, the suburban Washington where Woods won a PGA event two years ago.
"We're very disappointed Tiger Woods won't be playing," US Golf Association executive director Mike Davis said. "We completely understand that he is not fully recovered from his injuries and we wish him a speedy recovery.
"The excitement that he generates will be missed."
Woods, a three-time US Open champion, has not missed the US Open since 1994, when he had just completed high school.
Winless in 22 starts over 20 months since the revelation of his secret sex life that led to a divorce from Elin Nordegren, Woods has fallen to 15th in the world rankings, seventh among Americans.
After sharing fourth in the Masters for the second year in a row, Woods was hurting at the Players, withdrawing after going six-over par in nine holes with pain that went from his left knee and tendon into his calf.
Woods did not announce a timetable for his return but he has planned to play in next month's US PGA AT and T National, that starts June 30 and benefits Woods' charity foundation.
"I hope to be ready for AT and T National, the next two majors and the rest of the year," Woods said.
Woods, 35, will miss his third major since winning the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines, when he limped through a playoff victory over Rocco Mediate and then had left knee surgery and missed the final two majors of the 2008 season.
Doctors had told Woods in 2008 that playing on the leg would not make the injury any worse, but that is likely not the case this time.
"It has been a frustrating and difficult year," Woods said. "But I'm committed to my long-term health. I want to thank fans for their encouragement and support. I'm truly grateful and will be back playing when I can."
Doctors had been treating the latest injuries to Woods with rehabilitation and strengthening exercises on his left leg as well as cold-water therapy and soft tissue treatments.
Woods is mired in the longest win drought of his career, having not taken a title since the 2009 Australian Masters, and the longest major win drought of his career, which extends to 12 events, three of them missed due to injuries.
The latest setback adds to growing doubt whether Woods will remain healthy enough long enough to challenge Nicklaus, who won two majors at age 40 and the Masters at age 46 but never had to overcome such injuries.
Woods has already undergone four operations on his left knee, including major reconstructive surgery.
Replacing Woods in the US Open field of 156 will be American amateur Michael Whitehead.
Denmark's Anders Hansen also withdrew on Tuesday due to injury. He was replaced in the lineup by American Jason Dufner.