Tiger Woods won't take risk if he's not fully fit for Open

Tiger Woods still does not know if he will play in The Open Championship at Royal St George's in two weeks' time.

The former world No 1, a three-time winner of the world's oldest major and joint fourth the last time the event was held at Sandwich eight years ago, has been out since mid-May with knee and Achilles injuries.

He said last night he no longer uses crutches or a walking boot, but his left knee and Achilles is not strong enough that he can hit balls. All he has done in recent weeks is work on his putting.

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"I will come back when I'm 100 per cent. I don't know when that's going to be and that's hard for me. I'm always goal oriented, but I'm not doing that this time," Woods told a news conference at the AT&T National, the PGA Tour event he is hosting this week. "I'm just playing it by ear right now. I've not hit any balls yet. I want to be out there playing, but I'm not ready yet."

Woods had hoped to return at the US Open a fortnight ago, but pulled out of that tournament and this week's in Pennsylvania. The 35-year-old continued: "It was a borderline call to play The Players (at Sawgrass in May). I wasn't quite 100 per cent and I hurt myself there.

"I learned my lesson at the Players. I'll come back when I'm 100 per cent. There's not going to be a 50-50 call this time. I would go over there (to The Open Championship) to show. I would go to win the tournament. I need to get my body ready where I can practice and play and apply it.

"But I'm 35, I'm not 65 - I've still got some years ahead of me and I feel my best years are still ahead of me. Tom Watson nearly won The Open at 59."

Woods has come back from injuries before and explained how he worked his way back after knee surgery following the 2008 US Open, where he beat Rocco Mediate in a play-off.

"Each week I was able to progress either two or three clubs in the bag," he said about that recovery. "It doesn't mean I'm going to do that now. It's also dependent on how it all feels on a daily basis.

"We're trying to push it every day and challenge my leg every day and see how it responds. If it gets better, then we move progressively a bit further, and if it doesn't, then we either stay there or take a step back.

"There no surgery required at all (he has had four operations already on his knee). There's been no discussion on surgery.

"I've played injured before and been successful at it (he won the 2008 US Open with two leg fractures and an injured knee). I didn't think this was anywhere near that, but it's time to have a different approach. I'm setting no timetable - I'm going to learn my lesson and apply it.

"I'm being smarter this time. I broke my leg and still played - that's not exactly smart." On his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' 18-major record Woods, who has been stuck on 14 for over three years now, said: "I've still got some time. We are about the same pace I believe in years on Tour and age. I feel excited about what my future holds."Woods does not disagree with the widely-held view that new US Open champion Rory McIlroy's swing is better than his was at the same age.

But he pointed out that he made changes when he was 23 that led to him achieving an unprecedented clean sweep of all four majors in 2000 and 2001.

"What Rory did was cool to watch. He had softer conditions and he was able to go low, but he was able to continue pushing it and that's fun. He was very impressive."