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Tiger Woods' absence from U.S. Open is disappointing ... and rare

June 7, 2011 |  1:09 pm

Woods_640 A lot has happened in the life of Tiger Woods since he graduated high school more than decade and a half ago, but one thing that has remained constant is his participation in the U.S. Open.

Next week that will change.

Woods announced Tuesday that lingering issues with his left leg will prevent him taking part in the tournament for the first time since 1994, when he had just graduated from high school.

“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 said 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 has won the U.S. Open three times -- 2000, 2002 and 2008, which was the last time he won a major tournament.

“We're very disappointed that he won't be playing in the National Open,” USGA Executive Director Mike Davis said. “He certainly brings excitement to the event. He'll be missed, but the U.S. Open will go on. The event is bigger than one player, but he certainly will be missed.”

Woods first made the announcement Tuesday via Twitter.

The Masters will become the only major tournament Woods has not missed since turning pro in 1996. He missed the British Open and PGA Championship while recovering from knee surgery in 2008.

Woods has said that the latest issues with his leg occurred while making an awkward shot on pine straw at the 17th hole on the final day of the Masters back in April. He finished tied for fourth in that tournament, then sat out the Wells Fargo Championship and withdrew from The Players Championship after nine holes. He has not played since.

“It's been a frustrating and difficult year, but I'm committed to my long-term health,” Woods said. “I want to thank the fans for their encouragement and support. I am truly grateful and will be back playing when I can.”

Woods said that he hopes to be ready for the June 30 AT&T National, as well as the final two majors of the year. It will be the 12th straight major that he has not won, the longest such drought in his professional career. He remains four majors short of Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships.

Last year was the first time in his professional career that he did not win on the PGA tour, with his best finish a fourth-place tie at the Masters. After 281 consecutive weeks as the No. 1 golfer in the world, he fell to No. 2 last November and has continued to drop this year, falling to No. 15 this week.


The future of Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods to drop out of golf's top 10 for first time in 14 years

-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Tiger Woods. Credit: Hans Deryk / Reuters