Woods urged to feel his way back

The 14-time major champion withdrew midway through his first round at last week’s Farmers Insurance Open in California due to back pain although he insisted Wednesday’s announcement had nothing to do with injury.

The 39-year-old has struggled with his game recently and fired a career-worst 82 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open two weeks ago.

That came on the back of a joint-last finish at the Hero World Challenge in December with his short game of particular concern.

Woods admitted after his doom in the desert that he was struggling with the timing of his new swing with consultant Chris Como, and 2008 US Ryder Cup captain Azinger believes he needs to stop over-thinking his swing.

“I’d like to see Tiger kick the video camera to the curb,” Azinger told USA TODAY.

“What Tiger has done is sacrifice a winning swing at the altar for a quest for the perfect swing. And a perfect swing doesn’t exist.

“Feel is the key here. A great player has to eliminate one side of the course and he’s fighting a two-way miss. He has to feel he won’t hook the ball instead of thinking how not to hook the ball.”

Azinger added: “I think it’s great he’s taking a break because he has to find a way to claw his way back.

“His brilliant short game has camouflaged his declining ball-striking the past few years until now.”

While no time-frame has been put on Woods’ return, manager Mark Steinberg suggested Woods is aiming for the Masters in April while the man himself admitted he would like to play at the Honda Classic in two weeks’ time.

But that looks unlikely with Woods admitting that his game is “not acceptable for tournament golf”.

“Right now, I need a lot of work on my game, and to still spend time with the people that are important to me,” Woods wrote in a statement on his official website.

“My play, and scores, are not acceptable for tournament golf. Like I’ve said, I enter a tournament to compete at the highest level, and when I think I’m ready, I’ll be back.

“Next week I will practise at Medalist and at home getting ready for the rest of the year. I am committed to getting back to the pinnacle of my game.

“I’d like to play The Honda Classic – it’s a tournament in my hometown and it’s important to me – but I won’t be there unless my game is tournament-ready. That’s not fair to anyone.

“I do, however, expect to be playing again very soon.”

He added: “The last two weeks have been very disappointing to me, especially Torrey, because I never want to withdraw. Unfortunately, lately injuries have made that happen too often.

“This latest injury is not related to my previous surgery. I am having daily physical therapy and I am feeling better every day.”