PONTE VEDRA BEACH (Florida) (AFP) Suddenly, Tiger Woods golf game looks as vulnerable as his marriage. Woods faces being knocked off his perch as world number one at this weeks Players Championship, a notion all but unthinkable before his spectacular fall from grace over extra-marital affairs. A victory by Phil Mickelson, coupled with a finish outside the top five for Woods, would end Woods reign atop the rankings. He has held the world number one spot for 264 straight weeks, but after missing the cut at last weeks Quail Hollow Championship by a shocking eight strokes Woods seems to be floundering. It was only the sixth missed cut of Woods US PGA Tour career, and he has never missed two in a row. But the TPC Sawgrass, site of the Players, hasnt always been welcoming to Woods. He won The Players Championship in 2001, but it remains the only event in which Woods has finished outside the top 20 at least five times. And the course isnt the only part of Sawgrass where Woods has looked supremely uncomfortable in the past. It was in the clubhouse here on February 19 that Woods ended a self-imposed silence and delivered a globally televised statement in which he apologized to his family, friends and fans for the multiple infidelities that jeopardized his marriage, cost him sponsors and tarnished his personal reputation. With Woods wife, Elin, reported by multiple media outlets to be on the verge of filing for divorce, Woods acknowledged this week that trying to whip his game back into shape while under the microscope was difficult. Ive been trying to make life adjustments and make life changes, he said. A lot of people, when they go through treatment, theyre able to make these adjustments in anonymity. Im not. And that makes it a lot more difficult. British Open champion Stewart Cink, who played with Woods at Quail Hollow, said that even after a five-month layoff, Woods lacked his usual laser-like focus. Hes obviously got things on his mind other than whats going on between the ropes right now, Cink said. You have to learn how to balance whats going on in your life with your golf, and if youre not in a great place mentally, sometimes it shows up out there. As Woods faltered at Qail Hollow last week, two young stars were staking their claim as real rivals to the 14-time major champion. Northern Irelands Rory McIlroy shot a 62 at Quail Hollow to break the course record by two shots on Sunday and win his first US title two days before his 21st birthday. In Japan, 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa shot a 58 to break the record of any course on a major tour en route to a Japan Tour triumph. The immediate threat to Woods number one ranking, however, comes from a longtime rival. Mickelson, who claimed his fourth major title with a victory at the Masters, has plenty of confidence in his own game. But he wont underestimate Woods, who has been ranked number one for a total of 598 weeks in his career, with only David Duval (15 weeks) and Vijay Singh (32 weeks) supplanting him. I have seen him hit shots that I dont know if anybody else in the world could ever possibly hit, Mickelson said. He is an incredible player and talent, and he has one of the most impressive records if not the most impressive record in the history of the game. Regardless of what he did last week, know the type of competitor he is, I expect him to come back and be the Tiger that we are used to seeing on the golf course. Woods coach Haney seems miffed by Miller A war of words has erupted between Tiger Woods swing coach and television commentator Johnny Miller. During a media interview on Wednesday, Miller said that the struggling Woods should ditch instructor Hank Haney. This might be a little harsh, but I really believe (Woods) needs to, every night, watch the US Open in the year 2000 in Pebble and just copy that swing and forget the Haney stuff. That was the best golf anybody has every played in history. He needs a new, fresh teacher and just go back to what got him there. If he was here right now, Id tell him to his face. Hours after Millers remarks, Haney fired back with an email to The Golf Channel. The facts are what they are, Haney wrote. I didnt start in 2001. I started in 2004. In the last two years, Tiger has won 44 percent of his tournaments and finished top three in 61 percent. In the two years before I started working with him, he won 24 percent and finished top three in 43 percent. On Tuesday, Woods denied he had split with Haney but his short reply only served to increase speculation that a change is imminent. Woods last week shot his worst round in a non-major, a 79 to miss the cut by eight strokes at the PGA Tour event in Charlotte. It was Woods second tournament after a five-month layoff during which he dealt with the fallout from the revelations of his marital infidelity.