Tiger Woods is prepared to risk long-term injury in order to beat Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championship victories.
The world No 1 won his 14th major title with his third US Open victory on Monday after defeating Rocco Mediate on the first sudden-death hole following an 18-hole play-off at Torrey Pines.
Playing his first tournament since arthroscopic knee surgery on April 15, nine weeks on from finishing second at the Masters, Woods was in obvious discomfort and appeared set to withdraw from the tournament on Friday before taking pain relief to get him through the weekend.
The 32-year-old admitted he ignored doctors’ advice to play at Torrey Pines and indicated he would continue to do so in his quest to surpass Nicklaus as the most successful major winner of all time. Woods said: “I’m not really good at listening to doctor’s orders too well.”
Asked if he was told he risked further injury by playing at Torrey Pines, Woods nodded. Asked if he could have injured his knee further, the reply was: “Maybe.”
He will now take time out to rest his troublesome knee, leaving his participation at next month’s Open at Royal Birkdale in some doubt. “To be honest with you, I really don’t know,” Woods said in response to a question about his chances of playing at the British major. “I think I need to shut it down for a little bit here. It’s a bit sore.”
Woods insisted he had never contemplated quitting the US Open and would have had no excuses had he lost out to Mediate for the title. “I wasn’t going to ‘bag’ it,” he said. “I think everyone knows me well enough that it’s not in my nature, I don’t know how to do that.
“It helped to have that energy from all the fans, because there were times when it stung quite a bit. It’s been sore for a while. I just deal with it. All athletes deal with injuries and that’s just part of playing sport. Sport isn’t usually kind to the body. Weird things happen and that’s just the way it is but it’s about dealing with it and getting it up there and giving it your best, and see what happens. There’s never any excuses, you just go play.