How Much Will Tiger Woods' Elbow Injury Affect Him at the British Open?

Richard Leivenberg@@richiemarketingContributor IIIJune 28, 2013

Tiger Woods elbow injury may impede his muscular swing.
Tiger Woods elbow injury may impede his muscular swing.Eileen Blass-USA TODAY

A bad knee, an ailing back, a strained Achilles tendon, a pain in the neck and now his elbow.

At this rate, the only record Tiger Woods is going break is one for most injuries on the PGA tour.

As he looks to the upcoming British Open, Tiger’s latest injury may be the stiffest roadblock he has had to face in his quest to surpass Jack Nicklaus’s record for major wins.  Jack has 18 and Tiger 14.

But, reaching 15 just got a little bit tougher.

Tiger's ability to play through pain is definitely unmatched in golf, as witnessed at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines when he beat Rocco Mediate on a broken leg.

And, although we have come to view him as capable of leaping deep bunkers in a single bound, he is not superhuman. 

Tiger's latest injury, a strained left elbow which affects every swing of the club, will keep him out of competition for at least four weeks. That is no way to prepare for a major.

Tiger had amassed four wins leading into the Open and it appeared as if he was as primed for a major win as any time in the last few years.  His injury could not have come at a worse time.

He last played at the U.S. Open where it was very apparent that any full extension of his left elbow caused him discomfort.  As a precaution, he remained out of the AT&T National this weekend.

Prior to the event which he sponsors, Woods said, "It's disappointing not to play in my own event. This tourney means so much to us at the foundation and what we're able to do. We've raised $15 million here for the DC area, the two learning centers here, we have 25 Rhodes Scholars who are from here, so to us it's a very important week." 

This will be the third time since it began in 2007 that Woods has missed the AT&T National because of injury — knee surgery in 2008, his left Achilles tendon in 2011 and an elbow injury this year.

Tiger was having a very good year prior to the injury.  His four wins are still the most on the tour this year and he remains the No. 1-ranked player in the world.

Tiger’s strain affects the inside of his elbow and is most commonly referred to as golfer’s elbow. He is treating it with rest and physical therapy.  Neither of these things are a substitute for play and the longer he is out of competition, the harder it will be to come back.

The injury is exacerbated by repetition and requires that he stay away from hitting a golf ball.  Yet, even something as simple as turning a doorknob or buttoning a shirt can cause pain.

Thirty-seven really isn’t that old in golf.  Look at Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh as examples of players who have succeed well past that age. With better forms of nutrition, exercise and travel, today’s golfers should be able to maintain a high level of play well into their 40s.  Why, just last week Ken Duke won his first tourney at age 44.

The golf swing requires fluidity and flexibility. While Tiger’s workout regimen has provided him great muscle, it has not prevented injury.  Tiger may be wound so tight that he is actually susceptible to these sorts of strains.   

Tiger is known for putting every ounce of power into every swing. It is possible that the very thing that made him great is now adversely affecting him.

In typical Tiger fashion, he descried any doubters when he told The Sporting News, "I'll be ready to go for the British Open, and I'm looking forward to playing at Muirfield.”  

Participating at the Players and then at Merion made the injury worse. 

“I pushed it pretty good at the Open to play it and to play through it,” he said to Fox Sports.  “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.”

If Tiger doesn’t play before the British Open, it will be difficult to gauge how well he has come back from the elbow strain. 

He will face a myriad of obstacles at Muirfield including the damp and cool Scottish weather, a highly competitive field of top-ranked players and the self-inflicted pressure of winning that highly sought-after 15th major.

Tiger has defied the odds so many times in his career.  He once again has to defy his body.