BETHESDA, Maryland (AFP) - World number one Tiger Woods, unable to defend his US PGA National title this week because of a left elbow sprain, says he might not be 100 per cent for the British Open but will be "good enough."
Speaking on the eve of the US$6.5 million (S$8.3 million) tournament run by his foundation and staged at the par-71 Congressional Country Club, the 14-time major champion said he has not started to strengthen his elbow ahead of July's showdown at Muirfield.
"It's nice to have a four-week break before the Open," Woods said.
"I listened to my docs. I'm not touching a club. We're treating it and eventually I'll start the strengthening process of it, then start hitting balls to get up to speed for the British."
Asked if he would be 100 per cent fit for the year's next major July 18-21 in Scotland, Woods replied, "How about GED - good enough." "I would like to be 100 per cent but I don't know. It depends on how the body heals. We'll see how it goes." Woods said he is using ultrasound, soft tissue massage, anti-inflammatory drugs and ice to treat the elbow.
"Eventually I'll start the strengthening process," he said. "Hopefully that will be sooner than later." Woods suffered the injury in winning the Players Championship last month, his fourth triumph of the year, and aggravated it two weeks ago at the US Open, often blasting out of dense rough on his way to a share of 32nd at Merion.
"I pushed it pretty good at the Open to play it and to play through it," Woods said. "Made it worse by hitting the ball out of the rough and eventually got to a point where I wasn't able to play here."
Woods said he would have been wiser not to have played at the Memorial, a PGA event hosted by 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus two weeks before the US Open, but he did and struggled there as well as at Merion.
"There's a difference between being hurt and being injured. It's a delicate balance," Woods said. "I know what it's like to play both unfortunately. You can play hurt, but playing injured, it can sideline you for a while."
Woods, who has not won a major title since the 2008 US Open, also dismissed comments by Nick Faldo to Britain's Daily Mail last week in which he said the problems for Woods are mental.
"I think Tiger has woken up and realised this is a hard sport and he is a mere mortal after all," Faldo told the newspaper.
"He's not in a good mental place. It was so easy for him before. He made it look so easy when it is such a hard sport. But whatever he's been through, with all his personal problems, has made an impact on his mind - and so much of this sport is all in the mind. Nerve is the bottom line."
Woods has not won a major title since the sex scandal enveloped him in 2009, leading to his divorce from Elin Nordegren and a loss of sponsorship deals as his good-guy image was shattered.
But Woods has a new girlfriend, US ski star and reigning Olympic downhill champion Lindsey Vonn, and had overcome leg injuries and swing changes to find top form until his elbow injury.
Asked if he was struggling mentally, Woods said, "No." Asked about Faldo's comments, Woods replied, "I don't know. I've won four times."
Asked if experience had made him better at handling the up and down emotions of a round, Woods said, "I don't know if it gets easier, but certainly I know how to handle it, and that's just from experience."
One player who expects Woods will move closer to Nicklaus' record is Jason Day, who finished third at the Masters and in a share of second at the US Open.
"The number one guy in the world, all he wants to do is win and compete and play, and that's why he wins multiple times a year," Day said. "He has won 14 majors and he's definitely going to win one because that's the only thing that he wants."