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Woods preparing for Open tourney

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Tiger Woods has to use crutches and a walking boot now, but expects to regain strength to play in the U.S. Open in June.

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NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. — Tiger Woods says he’ll be ready to go for the U.S. Open.

Good thing for Woods there’s time to get healthy.

The golfing great hasn’t hit a ball in about two weeks. Woods needs crutches and a walking boot for relief on his aching left leg. He won’t even start leg training until the end of next week.

But Woods expects to tee off at the U.S. Open June 16-19 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

“You just play through these things,” Woods said. “There’s a difference between being in pain and being injured.”

That’s why Woods has shut himself down to prepare for the major.

Woods is bothered by pain in his left knee, left Achilles’ tendon, tightening in his calf, and has a sore lower back. He says doctors have not mentioned leg surgery.

But he doubts he’ll play the Memorial next week in Dublin, Ohio.

Woods said he’ll start training by the end of next week. How his leg responds will determine when he can start hitting balls again — all but ruling out the Memorial.

“I’ve had four surgeries on it,” Woods said. “Obviously, it’s not what it was when I was little.”

That means Woods would go to the U.S. Open with little competition, although this is nothing new for him. In 2008, he had arthroscopic surgery after the Masters and didn’t play again until the U.S. Open. Doctors discovered a double stress fracture in his left tibia in the weeks before the major. Going against his doctor’s advice, Woods not only played the U.S. Open, he won it at Torrey Pines in a 19-hole playoff.

Now, he says his left leg is not nearly as bad as it was then.

His golf, however, is a different story.

In the 11 tournaments Woods played before the U.S. Open, he won eight times, was runner-up twice and didn’t finish out of the top five. In the 11 tournaments before this U.S. Open, he has only five finishes in the top 10.

Woods withdrew after only nine holes this month at The Players Championship. He also fell out of the top 10 rankings for the first time in 14 years.

He has been No. 1 for 623 weeks in his career, by far the longest of any golfer since the rankings began in 1986.

He had been No. 1 from June 2005 until Lee Westwood of England supplanted him last November.

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