Tiger Woods Withdraws From the U.S. Open
The sports world wasn't shocked when Tiger Woods posted on his website Tuesday that he would not be competing in next week's U.S. Open. The golfer, who has been wearing a boot after spraining a ligament in his left knee during the Masters in April, has not played since quitting in pain May 12 after nine holes at the Players Championship.
“I am extremely disappointed that I won’t be playing in the U.S. Open, but it’s time for me to listen to my doctors and focus on the future,” Woods wrote 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."
The 111th U.S. Open, which starts June 16 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., earned a 6.9 rating last year in its final round on NBC -- a 35 percent bump from 2009. Woods surely bolstered the TV audience when he made a run in the third round at Pebble Beach, but he faltered on Sunday and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell took the title.
TV ratings soar when Woods plays well, but with his well-publicized personal travails, he hasn't won an event since November 2009 and has fallen to No. 15 in the world rankings.
“It’s a blow to the tournament,” said Brad Adgate, senior vp/director of research at Horizon Media. “Tiger has always been able to bring in casual golf viewers, especially when he is contention. Every sports report when mentioning the results of a golf tourney will mention how Woods is doing regardless of his spot on the leader board.”
Added Patrick Rishe, director of Sportsimpacts and a sports business professor at Webster University: “There may be more no-shows in corporate tents and some fans looking to dump their tickets on the secondary market because they only really care to see Tiger, but fortunately for NBC, the U.S. Open is generally pretty compelling theater, so ratings should be fine … but certainly not near the heights it could be when Tiger is in the chase and at his best.”
ESPN will televise the first two rounds, and NBC will have the final two on the weekend.
Woods, 35, hasn't won a major championship in three years, and this will be the first time he's missed the U.S. Open since 1994. He has 14 majors on his resume, still four shy of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18.
Woods also missed half of the 2008 season because of an injury to the same knee suffered during his gritty U.S. Open win at Torrey Pines in San Diego. He has tumbled to 15th in the world rankings.
Woods said he plans to return later in the summer. “I hope to be ready for AT&T National [the June 28-July 3 tournament outside Philadelphia that benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation], the next two majors and the rest of the year,” he wrote on his site.
The third major of the season, the British Open, takes place July 14-18 in England.
Georg Szalai contributed to this report.