Tiger Woods expects to play U.S. Open

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- Despite wearing a protective boot and using crutches to get around in recent days, Tiger Woods said Tuesday that he is pointing toward playing next month's U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club.

Woods withdrew after just nine holes of The Players Championship on May 12, having shot 42 at TPC Sawgrass -- his only competitive golf since a tie for fourth at the Masters.

A knee strain and Achilles injury suffered during the third round of the Masters were bothersome enough to send Woods to the sideline and put his immediate future in doubt.

"I'm going to do everything I can," Woods said about the U.S. Open, which begins June 16 -- or in 23 days. "All my docs said I should be ready to go by then."

Woods spoke during a news conference at Aronimink Golf Club, where tournament organizers were promoting the AT&T National tournament, which begins June 30. The tournament benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation and Woods won the event in 2009 when it was played at Congressional.

Although Woods did not officially rule out playing next week's Memorial Tournament, his comments suggested he would not be able to play Jack Nicklaus' annual event in Ohio. He also admitted that he "probably" returned to golf too soon by trying to compete at the Players.

"I'll start probably by the end of next week some strength training ... and try to get in golf shape again," Woods said.

The U.S. Open will mark the three-year anniversary of Woods' 14th and last major title at Torrey Pines, where he played despite having not competed since the Masters.

Back then, Woods was coming off of arthroscopic knee surgery that led to ACL reconstruction after the U.S. Open. He also had a broken bone in his leg suffered during extensive rehab leading up to the tournament.

He joked that at least this time he'll have had nine holes of competition leading into the Open.

"It has been frustrating that I haven't been able to play and practice," Woods said. "Those are things I love to do. I love practicing, I love preparing, and I haven't been able to do that.

"But the good news is I've done this before. I've gone through injuries before ... and taken the time out to take it step by step. I've had to go back into that mindset. As I said in '08 was really tough to have to shut it down for six months, doing something I love to do and not being able to do it at all. That's kind of where I've been at mentally is just trying to prepare myself," he said.

For his part, Woods is having some fun in dealing with his persisting leg injuries and the repeated inquiries about his health.

Before his news conference, Woods tweeted that he'd donate $1 million to his Tiger Woods Foundation if no reporter "asks me about the leg."

Sure enough, the first question was about Woods' injury.

After the meeting with reporters, Woods tweeted: "Bet was over after first question but of course I'm going to give the money to the (foundation)." A Woods representative confirmed the donation.

Woods, who has 71 PGA Tour titles and 14 majors, has not won since November 2009 at the Australian Masters. His last PGA Tour title was in September of that year at the BMW Championship.

Ranked No. 1 in the world for all but 32 weeks from 2000 through last October, Woods this week fell to No. 12 -- the lowest he has been since the week prior to winning his first major title in 1997 at the Masters.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.