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Tiger Woods has withdrawn from the 2011 US Open after he was diagnosed with a Grade 1 mild Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) sprain to his left knee and a mild strain to his left Achilles tendon suffered while hitting a second shot from under the Eisenhower tree at hole No. 17 during the third round at the Masters. He was unable to play in the Wells Fargo Championship and withdrew after nine holes in the first round at THE PLAYERS Championship after reinjuring his leg on the opening tee shot.

Tiger Woods previously competed in the 2008 U.S. Open with a ruptured ACL and a double stress fracture of the left tibia, but was told then by doctors that playing in the tournament would not make his leg worse.

What is a Grade 1 MCL Sprain? 

There are 3 grades of ligament sprain

Grade 1 – There is damage to a few collagen fibres, producing a local inflammatory response (mild swelling over injury site). This is characterised by pain over the affected ligament.

Grade 2 – There is damage to a more extensive number of collagen fibres. This produces a more marked inflammatory response characterised by intense pain and joint effusion (swelling).

Grade 3 – The damage to collagen fibers is such that there is a complete rupture of the ligament. This produces intense pain, joint effusion and marked joint instability. Surgery may be necessary to restore joint stability.

So whilst we can sometimes perform with a mild grade 1 sprain the likelihood of exasperating the injury especially in professional sport like golf is high. Tiger is a right hander so when he pulls the club backwards pressure will be applied through his left knee and his MCL will attempt to control the joint as it goes into flexion and medial rotation. This torque movement designed to produce power if repeated over 3 days or so of competitive golf would most certainly cause more problems within the affected knee.

Tiger Woods also has a mild Achilles problem so his likelihood of further injury increases yet again! He will probably have to pick and choose his tournaments from now on as playing at his high level of golf every week as already shown isn’t an option.

With the all the young pros who are trying to create swing speed, there’s going to be more resistance in the lower leg so they can get the swing speed they want. It will be interesting to see in the future how many of these young players have knee problems that we don’t even know about yet.