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Page last updated at 08:37 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 09:37 UK

Azinger seeks Woods involvement

Tiger Woods and Paul Azinger during the 2002 Ryder Cup
Woods and Azinger were team-mates during the 2002 Ryder Cup

US captain Paul Azinger says he plans to keep in touch with injured world number one Tiger Woods during his side's Ryder Cup campaign.

Woods will miss the tournament because of a knee injury but Azinger said: "I'm going to have an open phone line to him during the event.

"I'm kind of curious how he feels as the event unfolds.

"He's really intelligent and he's a great golf mind, so I'm looking forward to talking to Tiger."

Azinger will attempt to halt the US team's three-match losing streak when the matches take place in Valhalla, Kentucky from 19-21 September.

But he will have to do it without Woods, who had reconstructive knee surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament after winning a dramatic US Open in June.

606: DEBATE

Azinger has described Woods's absence from the team as a "tremendous blow", despite the fact that the 14-time major winner has not been a strong influence for the US in the Ryder Cup - winning 11 points from 25 matches.

And Azinger has denied that he would prefer Woods, who has announced that his wife Elin is pregnant with their second child, to stay away from the course to prevent him becoming a distraction.

"I really haven't given it that much thought, whether he's going to want to come or whether I want him to come or any of that," said Azinger.

"I want Tiger to get better and I want to watch Tiger on TV live. I'm tired of watching him on tape win all these tournaments. I want to see him win some tournaments live again.

"I'm going to really miss that Tiger is not going to be there. It's one of my great regrets of this Ryder Cup that he's not going to be a participant in these matches.

"Other than that, I haven't really put a lot of thought into he's going to come or whether I want him to come."

European Ryder Cup hero Paul McGinley, who sank the winning putt at The Belfry in 2002, says the absence of Tiger Woods could actually make the American team a stronger unit.

Not to have Tiger, it will be just the team and I don't think it's going to hurt them at all

Paul McGinley

"I think it's going to pull them together and put everyone in their team on a level playing pitch," said McGinley.

"Not to have Tiger, it will be just the team and I don't think it's going to hurt them at all."

Meanwhile, Europe's experienced Ryder Cup player Lee Westwood has pulled out of this week's European Masters in Switzerland because of another bout of tonsilitis.

The event in Crans-sur-Sierre was to have been the 35-year-old's last chance to register a victory this year prior to winning his sixth cap against the US.

Westwood also suffered tonsillitis a month before the 2006 match, but still played the final qualifying event in Germany to secure a wildcard.


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