Westwood warns not to write off Tiger

Last Updated: Mar 02, 2011, 15:25 PM IST

Florida: Tiger Woods has not won a US PGA event in 18 months and has slid from world number one to fifth in the rankings, but former world number one Lee Westwood warns not to count him out.

"Class is permanent. Form is fickle," Westwood said Tuesday. "I would be wise enough to know not to write him off."

England`s Westwood, who surrendered the top spot to Germany`s Martin Kaymer this week after dethroning Woods himself last October, is among those playing at this week`s $5.7 million PGA Honda Classic.

Woods is taking the week off after a first-round loss at last week`s World Golf Championships Match-Play Championship, becoming the first top seed to drop a first-round match in the history of the event.

Woods, whose 14 major titles are four shy of the all-time record set by Jack Nicklaus, has not won any event worldwide since the sex scandal that overtook him in late 2009 and led to his divorce from Elin Nordegren.

"There`s a different kind of interest for everybody," Westwood said. "When he was playing well, there was interest to see how far up he could get and could anybody catch him up."

"Now that he`s not playing very well, there`s the interest of when will he get it back and how fast will people go in front of him."

Adding to the struggle in fighting back to find his top form is Woods making changes to his swing with coach Sean Foley. Part of that equation is knowing when to play and when to practice.

"When I went through a bad patch, it was a juggling act," Westwood said. "Tiger has got to do what he feels is right."

Woods has not won a US event since the 2009 BMW Championship and last won a title at the 2009 Australian Masters. His best tour finishes were shares of fourth at last year`s Masters, his first event after a five-month hiatus, and US Open.

Woods has won 71 US PGA events, third on the all-time list after Sam Snead`s 82 and the 73 of Nicklaus, but golf`s grandest target, the 18 majors of Nicklaus, remains the quest most linked with Woods.

Nicklaus won two majors at age 35, the age Woods is now, and four majors after his 36th birthday, including the 1986 Masters at age 46.

Woods has not won a major title since the 2008 US Open, where he limped through a playoff to defeat Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines with a knee injury that would require surgery that ended his season.

Bureau Report