Paul Azinger: Tiger must fix mental game

August, 9, 2014

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Paul Azinger did not mince words Saturday when he appeared on Golf Channel to talk about Tiger Woods.

Azinger, the ESPN analyst who captained the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team to victory here at Valhalla, made it clear that Woods needs to get the mental side of his game in order and skip the event this fall.

"He has gone from the artist to the engineer. It is difficult to watch a Vincent Van Gogh paint by numbers," Azinger said. "We want to see Tiger come back and get all of this stuff out of his head.

"The golf swing takes a second and a half. What is running through his head in a second and a half that has caused him to lose [club] face and [swing] path awareness? Something is happening in the strongest and greatest mind that golf has ever known that is different, and he has got to fix it. It is not just physical."

Although Woods has yet to meet captain Tom Watson's threshold for being an at-large pick -- healthy and playing well -- there remains some sentiment that he could be part of the team that takes on Europe at the end of September.

"I don't think I would [pick him] at this point," Azinger said. "I don't see how you can take an injured player who is not playing well who has a two-way miss. Those are the two biggest concerns -- injured and a two-way miss.

"Tiger also has not been the formula for success, either. I just don't see how you can pick him at this point. I think Tiger actually will call Tom and say, 'I want to bail you out of this. I am just not quite ready.' That is what I feel Tiger will do and make Tom Watson's decision easier for him. With all due respect to one of the greatest players of all time, I would say you have to pass him up this year."

The nine automatic qualifiers for the team will become official on Sunday at the conclusion of the PGA Championship. Watson will make his three captain's selections on Sept. 2, with Ryder Cup play beginning Sept. 26.

Bob Harig | email

ESPN Senior Writer