• Phoenix Open

Rustiness no excuse for Woods' poor form, says Azinger

ESPN staff
February 2, 2015
Woods has dropped out of the world top 50 for the first time in three years © Getty Images

Tiger Woods cannot use rustiness as an excuse for dropping out of the world's top 50 for the first time in three years, according to ESPN golf analyst Paul Azinger.

A score of 82 at the Phoenix Open means Woods is in danger of missing only his second World Golf Championship event, after slipping to 56th in the latest edition of the Official World Golf Rankings released on Monday.

Woods has not ranked lower than 58th in the world since winning his first professional title at the Las Vegas Invitational in October 1996. The only other WGC event which Woods failed to qualify for was the HSBC Champions in 2011.

"He uses the excuse of rust, and I don't know that I can buy that because Tiger knows there's no shortcut to success," Azinger told ESPN. "You can't hope for it. You can't wish for it. You have to prepare. And there's no preparation that's gone into this.

"I think when Tiger says rust, to me, it's a signal that he doesn't know what the problem is. I feel he's as confused as he's ever been in his career. He's changed coaches along the way. Byron Nelson used to say there's two kinds of players, those that need to know a little and those who need to know it all. Which one do you think is easier?"

According to Azinger, Woods' vast accomplishments in the sport have made him confused as to what he needs to change to improve his game.

"Tiger's in a mode where he feels he has to know it all. Technically and physically, I think he felt like he peaked and he needed more information to get better. In the quest to get better, Tiger's actually gotten worse.

"Now he's confused and I think that at this point in his career, it's not really what he's accomplished that matters, but what he can overcome. And he's got a lot to overcome both physically and mentally."

Woods is expected to play at Torrey Pines this week, an event he has won seven times as well as an eighth title on the South Course at the 2008 US Open. He then will likely take two weeks off before playing the Honda Classic, unless he decides to add another event to improve his world ranking.

He will have to be inside the top 50 in the world rankings after the Honda Classic to be eligible for the field at Doral.

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