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Tiger Woods to miss The Open

Tiger Woods will not be at Sandwich for next week's Open Championship - the second time he has missed the event in four years.

The former world number one, out of action since mid-May, announced today that due to injuries to his left leg that have not fully healed he would not be making the trip.

"Unfortunately, I've been advised that I should not play in the British Open," Woods said on his official website.

He will be replaced by fellow American Jason Dufner.

The three-time champion - he won at St Andrews in 2000 and 2005 and then Hoylake the following year - was also an absentee at Royal Birkdale in 2008 following reconstructive knee surgery straight after his US Open victory a month earlier.

"As I stated at the AT&T National, I am only going to come back when I'm 100% ready," Woods added.

"I do not want to risk further injury.

"That's different for me, but I'm being smarter this time. I'm very disappointed and want to express my regrets to the British Open fans."

Woods personally contacted Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal and Ancient Club, to explain why he is unable to play.

He has now had four knee operations in all during his career and after the Masters in April was diagnosed with a grade one mild medial collateral ligament sprain to his left knee and a mild strain to his left Achilles tendon, suffered while hitting a shot from under a tree at Augusta.

He was unable to play in the Wells Fargo Championship and withdrew after nine holes in the first round at the Players Championship after re-injuring his leg on the opening tee shot.

Woods hoped to return for the US Open, but did not make that and also did not compete last week at the AT&T National.

"In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have competed at the Players, but it's a big event and I wanted to be there to support the tour," added Woods.

"I've got to learn from what I did there and do it right this time and not come back until I'm ready.

"I think my best years are still ahead of me and I'm very confident and optimistic about the future."

Padraig Harrington, who won the last two majors of 2008 during Woods' enforced lay-off, reacted to today's news by saying: "It's unfortunate for the game of golf and it's more unfortunate for him.

"He still is the name we would look out for the most. It's not that we want him to turn up and win, but it would be nice to have him there and bring the buzz he does.

"Let's just hope it's not that bad - it's a long time for that injury - and that he fully recovers.

"It's a good feeling when you go down the stretch with Tiger and it's a great feeling when you beat him.

"He certainly pushed everybody else along. I'm looking forward to him getting back and disappointed he's not there."

Woods looks likeliest to return now - unless,of course, he decides to take another extended break from the game even once the leg has healed - at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on August 4-7.

He has won that seven times, although last season came joint 78th out of 80 as the details of his divorce settlement were being finalised.

It comes a week before the final major of the year, the US PGA Championship in Atlanta.

Woods has not won since the Australian Masters in November 2009 and the last of his 14 majors remains the 2008 US Open, where he played despite the dire state of his knee and two stress fractures in his leg.

When he won at Torrey Pines it appeared a near certainty that he would take Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles, but there is a huge doubt that he will ever do it now.

Not in his own mind it seems, though.

Only last week he was asked about the record and replied: "He won when he was 46, right?

"I've still got some time and on top of that we're about the same pace I believe in years on Tour and majors won.

"I feel pretty confident of what my future holds and very excited about it. I'm 35, I'm not 65 - I've still got some years ahead of me.

"Golf is unlike any other sport. I mean, (Tom) Watson was 59 when he almost won (the 2009 Open)?

"We can play for a very long time. What I would like to do is play this game for as long as I want to and I feel like my best years are still ahead of me.

"I just need to get out there and practise and then implement it and put it all together."

On the same day, though, he admitted that he had not swung a club since taking 42 shots for the front nine at Sawgrass on May 12 and then quitting.

Dawson, the R&A's chief executive, stated: "I know how disappointed Tiger is not to be able to play in the Open this year.

"Naturally, we are sorry that a player of his calibre isn't able to join us at Royal St George's, but we wish him well in his recovery and hope to see him back soon, competing in front of the fans that love to see him play the game."

With Brendan Jones declining his chance to play and Dufner stepping in, the first reserve now is another American, Robert Garrigus - and he can expect a call soon with Thomas Levet having fractured his shin on Sunday evening jumping in the lake at Le Golf National after winning the French Open.

There are also doubts about South African Tim Clark, who has not played since the Players Championship either because of an elbow injury, and Fijian Vijay Singh, who pulled out of the AT&T National last week with back trouble.

After Garrigus on the alternate list come ex-Ryder Cup player Anthony Kim, England's Simon Dyson and Dane Thomas Bjorn - the player who led by three with four to play at Sandwich in 2003 and lost.