ARDMORE, Pa. – What looked at first like a new ailment has been bothering Tiger Woods for a while.
Woods' left elbow, originally believed to be a wrist injury, has become one of the major storylines of this major tournament. It flared up again on Friday after nagging him as early as the second shot of the U.S. Open here on Thursday. After shooting even par for his second round, Woods admitted his elbow has been hurting since The Players Championship in early May.
Woods didn't seem to show much (if any) pain during The Memorial leading up to the U.S. Open, but his poor performance there now seems more of a source of wonder than an aberration. How badly has the elbow been hurting, how often, and how much is it affecting his game?
Woods, closed-lipped as ever, gave a snippy answer when asked how he hurt the elbow.
"Playing golf," Woods said.
Playing golf was certainly the cause of aggravation on Friday. The winces of Thursday became full-fledged grimaces as the afternoon wore on, not on every hole but especially when he was forced to escape from rough as tangled as late '80s computer wires.
The most pain seemed to come on Hole 7, when Woods tee shot veered left and left him in the tall grass behind a large tree. His ensuing shot caused him to swing his left arm behind his back in pain. Woods then flubbed his next shot, hitting a wedge no more than two feet, before carding a bogey that left him six shots off the lead at the time of the conclusion of his round.
The injury makes Woods' impressive second round even more notable, as he fought to even par and watched many of the other leaders fall away. After the end of his first round Friday morning, Woods was tied for 45th. After the end of his second round Friday afternoon, his 3-over was tied for 27th with many others still battling the course. The world's top golfer has a puncher's chance for his 15th major, bad elbow or not.
The pain doesn't seem to be weighing on Woods mentally. Keep in mind, his last U.S. Open win came on a torn ACL.
Asked if he liked his chances over the weekend, Woods simply said, "Yes."
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