Title: Tiger Woods swings hard — and learns the same way
Description: Luckily for Tiger Woods — but unfortunately for his own event — the world’s No. 1 golfer finally has learned he is not indestructible. Woods withdrew from this week’s AT&T National with an injured elbow. How did he hurt it? The same way he always damages himself and the same way he has made himself great: a little at a time, always pushing for more of what he wants, always refusing to stop when others would, always viewing conventional good judgment as suspect and his own unbridled will as a better guide. Archive E-mailfacebookRSS Now, at 37, he says he realizes he must adjust to age and injury. Yet he still hasn’t — not quite. This very injury is a microcosm of all the others but also a mirror of his insatiable drive. Will he ever learn? Or could he and still be Tiger? Woods won’t be at Congressional Country Club, site of his own victory in this event last June, when the first round starts Thursday. He’ll keep track of top players who remain in a somewhat depleted field, like Masters winner Adam Scott and his rising Australian countryman Jason Day, as well as top U.S. players like Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler, Nick Watney and Jim Furyk. This week’s lesson for Woods is a biting one: At every stage of his career, including the last few weeks, he has pushed himself to play through pain — and sometimes through injury — to a level that has seemed excessive, with hindsight, even to him. In May, Woods hurt his left elbow at the Players. “It wasn’t a single shot that did it” at the Players, Woods said. “It didn’t feel good early in the week, but I pushed through it. It progressively just got worse. Got to a point where I was starting to struggle a little bit.” Because he was already in discomfort and “struggling,” he played in Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial tournament, an event on which this AT&T National is somewhat modeled. Nobody wants to disappoint Jack or appear to be a lame no-show. So once more, Woods pushed through — and finished 20 shots behind. Does he regret playing the Memorial? “I wouldn’t necessarily say regret. I wish I’d played better so I didn’t have so many [trouble] shots I had to hit,” Woods said. With hindsight, better to bag it?