World No. 1 golfer Tiger Woods of the United States will miss his own tournament in the nation's capital, the AT&T National, because of recent knee surgery. But the man he beat in a playoff at last month's U.S. Open Championship, compatriot Rocco Mediate, will tee off in the four-round event Thursday in suburban Bethesda, Maryland. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer has more from Congressional Country Club.
Woods says he does not always listen to his doctors, but he made it pretty clear in a media telephone conference call on Monday that he would not even travel here from his Florida home to present the winner's trophy this Sunday in the second annual AT&T National.
Tiger had always wanted to host a tournament on the PGA Tour and he got his wish when this event was inaugurated last year. South Korean KJ Choi was the winner and Woods finished tied for sixth.
As much as Tiger would at least like to make an appearance at this year's event, his doctors advised him to avoid airplanes. He had swelling in his knee on the flight home last Friday, three days after having surgery in Utah.
He said he does not know when he'll play golf again, that it could be six, nine or even 12 months. But he told reporters he's confident he'll come back stronger.
"My left knee has been sore for 10 or 12 years, so it'll be nice to finally have a healthy leg. The doctors have assured me that in the long term my health will be a hell of a lot better than it's been over the past decade. So I'm really looking forward to that and not feeling pain after I play or while I'm playing," he said.
Observers remain amazed that Woods was able to win last month's U.S. Open in such pain, suffering from both a torn ligament in his knee and two stress fractures in his leg.
One of them was his head-to-head playoff opponent Rocco Mediate.
"He was hurting. But that's what the greatest guys in their sport do. They find a way to get it done. Like he said after one of his interviews, he was asked, 'how do you feel,' and he said, 'I got the W. [the win]. He doesn't care how," he said.
Mediate says without Tiger, the PGA Tour feels quite different.
"There's no one who can fill his shoes, especially me. Is it more interesting that now more people want to see how it turns out? Absolutely. As I've said before, the Tour is doing just fine, but certainly it's not the same without him on these golf courses," he said.
And Mediate added that it would be an amazing honor to win Tiger's AT&T National Tournament, even though the world's best golfer is absent.