Tiger Woods is back on the course and ready to go for next week's British Open.
The world's top-ranked golfer released a lengthy blog post on his official website Saturday morning, in which he announced he had returned to the course and was expecting to be at full strength at Muirfield Golf Club.
UPDATE: July 16, at 6:35 a.m. ET by Brandon Galvin
BBC Sport has the latest from Tiger Woods' press conference:
Tiger Woods tells a news conference he's fully recovered from an elbow injury ahead of the Open Championship at Muirfield starting Thursday.— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 16, 2013
ESPN's Bob Harig followed up with more from Woods:
The left elbow injury that caused Woods problems during the U.S. Open at Merion last month and kept him from playing in two tournaments afterward is also causing Woods to take the cautious approach as he prepares for what will be his 17th Open Championship.
'I was always going to just play nine (holes) each day,' Woods said Wednesday after his third 9-hole practice round at Muirfield. 'That was the plan, not to push it on the amount of holes, especially on hard ground. I've been playing a lot at home. But it's Florida, it rains every day, it's soft. It's two totally different conditions.'
'I just wanted to make sure that I'm rested and feel fit and ready to go for the championship. I've done a lot of homework on the greens each day. And I've taken my time and really got a good fell for them. So that's been good. I would just like to get another wind in, a little different direction. We've had it the same the last three days.'
---End of update---
Based on his statement, Woods has yet to begin driving the ball off the tee. He said that he's been chipping and putting "a little" since last week, but he made no statements on whether he pulled the driver out of his bag or has played a full practice round yet.
The 2013 Open Championship gets underway Thursday, July 18, and will mark Woods' first return to the course since the U.S. Open.
Woods finished 13-over par in a tie for 32nd place at this year's Open, held at Merion Golf Club's notoriously difficult East Course. Out of contention throughout much of the tournament, Woods was noticeably hampered by a lingering elbow injury. He grimaced multiple times over his four rounds, coyly giving little information on the extent of his condition.
In another press release posted after the U.S. Open, Woods announced that he had aggravated a pre-existing injury and would sit out for the month-plus gap between the two major tournaments. As a result, Woods missed his own tournament, the AT&T National.
Tiger acknowledged that he's still receiving treatment on the elbow, which was diagnosed as a sprained ligament. It's unclear whether he'll still be taking the anti-inflammatory medications and receiving therapy next week, but it's certainly something worth monitoring.
Woods also spoke of his excitement to have a second crack at Muirfield, which hosted the 2002 Open Championship as well. That event, coming at the peak of his most noted run of dominance, left him bitterly disappointed. Woods finished in a tie for 28th, a result that ended a possible Grand Slam for the 14-time major champion.
This time around, Woods comes in carrying no such momentum. This year's U.S. Open marked the five-year anniversary of Woods' last major championship, in which he defeated Rocco Mediate, essentially playing on one leg. Once considered a lock to cruise right by Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major championships, Woods is now firmly in his post-prime phase while the world's pool of golfers only gets better.
That said, Woods cannot be counted out next week. His long-standing affinity for links courses has been covered throughout his career, with the 37-year-old having some of his greatest success on that particular course design.
Woods has won a PGA Tour-best four times this year. He has won three Open Championships, the most recent coming at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in 2006.
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