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Azinger regrets absence of Woods

Tiger Woods and Paul Azinger
Woods (l) and Azinger (r) have played together in previous Ryder Cups

US Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger has admitted he "hates" not being able to call upon injured world number one Tiger Woods for the event in September.

Europe's captain Nick Faldo has suggested his absence may help the US team pull together, but Azinger believes his side will be underdogs.

"I wish I could suddenly announce he's fit for the match," he said.

"It's a tremendous blow. You can't replace arguably the greatest player ever, so I hate it."

Woods's season ended in June when he won the US Open, his 14th major, in a fifth-day play-off over Rocco Mediate despite stress fractures in his left leg and his left knee.

After winning he immediately went into hospital for reconstructive surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament and soon announced that he would be out for the rest of the season.

I wanted Tiger's contribution on and off the course and I'm not going to get it

Paul Azinger
US Ryder Cup captain

Despite the fact that Woods has never been a major Ryder Cup influence for the Americans - four of his five appearances have ended in defeat for the US - Azinger insists the player would have been a key asset to his squad for the event in Kentucky.

"I wanted to be with him all week," he said. "I wanted his contribution on and off the course and I'm not going to get it.

"You have to value his insight even if he was 10 years retired in absolutely the same way I've called on Ray Floyd and Dave Stockton (as vice-captains)."

Woods, who has turned down an official invite from Azinger to act as a vice-captain for the match, was top scorer for the US at The K Club in the 2006 Ryder Cup with three points, and in singles his only defeat was to Costantino Rocca on his debut at Valderrama in 1997.

But overall his contribution as a team player, given his status, is often brought into question.

606: DEBATE

In 1999, 2002 and 2004, Woods lost both his opening-day matches.

Faldo has indicated that he sees clear evidence of Europe's players rising to the challenge of taking on Woods and said: "The best player in the world over 18 holes in match play can be very vulnerable".

But Azinger, speaking earlier in August, disagrees.

"I can't see one single positive from Tiger Woods being missing from our team," he said. "I can't imagine how you can argue a team would be better off without him.

"As far as I'm concerned, it really puts Europe in an advantageous place. I would say, without question, it puts Europe in a favourite role."


see also
European Ryder Cup rankings
26 Aug 08 |  Golf


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