COMMENTARY -- Tiger Woods does have a way of putting himself on the disabled list retroactively.
He did it again on Wednesday, announcing on his website that he would be missing the AT&T National, the tournament he hosts in suburban Maryland, next week because of an elbow injury he suffered at the U.S.Open.
"I was examined after I returned home from the U.S. Open, and the doctors determined I have a left elbow strain," Woods said.
"I have been advised to take a few weeks off, rest and undergo treatment. I'll be ready to go for the British Open, and I'm looking forward to playing at Muirfield."
Woods was to defend the title he won last year at Congressional C.C. after a derecho rocked the Washington, D.C. area, nearly forcing the cancellation of Saturday play. Instead, the 2013 edition of the AT&T National marks the second time in three years that an injury has forced Woods to the sidelines for his own tournament. In 2011, Woods did not play at Aronimink, just miles from Merion near Philadelphia, because of an injury to his left Achilles' tendon and knee.
The world No. 1 did not fare well at the U.S. Open, finishing T-32 after four disappointing days. Instead of becoming the first Sean Foley pupil to win a major championship, it was Justin Rose who seized the moment to capture his maiden major crown.
On the first hole of the tournament, Woods showed signs of injury, trying to extricate his ball from the juicy rough at the club's East Course. He looked even worse on the fifth hole, then doubled over on the 11th hole in the resumption of the first round on Friday.
When asked about the injury, Woods said he first tweaked it competing at The Players Championship, which he went on to win for a second time after a 12-year drought at TPC Sawgrass.
Perhaps the injury explains a pair of career-worst marks in consecutive starts for the four-time winner this season. Woods shot 8-over 44 for nine holes at the Memorial Tournament last month, eventually challenging his worst PGA Tour 18-hole score before shooting 79 in the third round. Woods was a heavy favorite coming off The Players win, defending a title he won last year for the fifth time at Muirfield Village.
Then Woods posted his worst 72-hole score as a pro at the U.S. Open and his worst major-championship tally in relationship to par.
In his last two starts, Woods has finished 20 and 14 shots back of the champion, respectively.
The trend has not been good for Woods, who enjoyed tremendous success through the first four-and-a-half months of the season, but has stumbled since notching that Players title.
Woods remains a betting favorite heading into the Open Championship next month at Muirfield, pegged at 7-to-1 odds to win a 15th major. However, Woods will have to find a tune-up start between the AT&T National at the trek overseas, which could likely come at the Greenbrier Classic in neighboring West Virginia. That might not be the best place for Woods to regain his confidence, as he missed the cut at the Old White TPC after winning the AT&T National.
All of a sudden, the thinking on Woods' year has shifted from the possibility of a sweep of the final three majors of 2013 to some doubt about how he'll perform with the elbow injury and the constant specter of knee problems that have haunted him throughout his career.
That's all coming from the outside, though. Woods has no doubt he's doing the right thing, with Sean Foley, in taking some time off, and in getting ready for the second half of the season.
To notch another major to his second-best career tally, Woods will have to not only recover from an elbow problem but figure out how to win at venues in Muirfield and PGA Championship host Oak Hill where he placed T-28 and T-39, respectively, the last time they held a major.
Ryan Ballengee is a Washington, D.C.-based golf writer. His work has appeared on multiple digital outlets, including NBC Sports and Golf Channel. Follow him on Twitter @RyanBallengee.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tiger Woods