Tiger Withdraws from U.S. Open

Citing a lack on progress in the healing of his injured left knee and Achilles heel, Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the U.S. Open, which starts June 16th at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

"I am extremely disappointed that I won't be playing in the U.S. Open," Woods said on his website (http://web.tigerwoods.com/news/article/2011060720151470/news/). "But it's time for me to listen to my doctors and focus on the future. 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," he added. "I hope to be ready for the AT&T National, the next two majors and the rest of the year."

Woods was diagnosed with a Grade 1 medial collateral ligament sprain to his left knee and a mild strain to his left Achilles tendon after he hit a second shot from under the Eisenhower tree at on the 17th hole in the third round of the Masters in early April.

Though he completed 72 holes in the year's first major - finishing tied for fourth at 10-under 278, Woods didn't return to competition until the Players Championship a month later. At TPC Sawgrass, he re-injured the leg on his opening tee shot and withdrew after only nine holes.

He hasn't returned since and, by missing next week's national championship, an event he's won three times, Woods is breaking a streak of 15 consecutive U.S. Opens starting with his first appearance in 1996. (It was a big few days for golf's erstwhile No. 1-ranked player; on Monday he announced that he would be sticking with longtime agent, Mark Steinberg, even though Steinberg is no longer employed by IMG, Woods's agency for the past 12 years.)

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

Taking Woods's place is amateur Michael Whitehead. The 23-year-old from Sugar Land, Texas, shot rounds of 68-68 - 136, to earn the first alternate position June 6 at Dallas Athletic Club's Blue Course.

"We are disappointed that Tiger Woods, a three-time champion, will not be able to play in the 2011 U.S. Open," said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. "We completely understand that he is not fully recovered from his injuries and we wish him a speedy recovery. The excitement that he generates will be missed, but the Blue Course at Congressional Country Club will surely provide an excellent test for the 156 world-class players in the field of this national championship."

Denmark's Anders Hansen has also withdrawn due to injury. He will be replaced by Jason Dufner, who earned the first alternate position after posting rounds of 69-64 - 133 in sectional qualifying Monday at Hawks Ridge G.C. in Ball Ground, Ga.