Woods still in mix for U.S. Ryder Cup team
August 11, 2014
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- Tiger Woods had struggled with health in scoring in the 2013-14 season, but he still might make the team. (Warren Little/Getty Images)
Although Tiger Woods failed to qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs, he remains in the mix for a potential Ryder Cup captain's pick, U.S. Captain Tom Watson said Monday.
Woods missed the cut at last week's PGA Championship and has been bothered by a sore back that forced him to withdraw from the previous week's tournament, the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. But Watson isn't going to dismiss the seven-time Ryder Cupper.
"He is Tiger Woods and he brings a lot to the team -- if he has the ability to play and he's healthy," Watson said. "He brings a lot to the team, and I'd be a fool not to consider him."
The top nine Americans in Ryder Cup points guaranteed their spots on the team Sunday after the PGA Championship. That leaves three captain's picks for Watson, who will announce his selections on the night of Sept. 2.
Woods will not appear in another PGA TOUR event before Watson's announcement, and he currently ranks 70th in Ryder Cup points.
The biggest questions for Watson are: 1) Is Woods healthy? and 2) Is Woods playing well? From Watson's perspective, the two go hand-in-hand.
"I will continue to speak with Tiger over the next three weeks to monitor his situation," Watson said. "Obviously he has not been playing well, but I think it's been a result, as you well know, of his injury and his coming back from back surgery. ...
"Right now, his health is not good. And whether that can change in the next three weeks, as I said, I'll monitor the situation."
Watson said Tiger's personal assessment will play a part in his decision. Woods, who has represented the U.S. in 14 Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, has been adamant about wanting to play in Gleneagles.
"I think it really directly comes from Tiger, how he assesses himself, because Tiger, he has a directness to him," Watson said. "He's just like me. I'm direct and he's direct. ...
"I can't assess his medical condition and I honestly can't assess how he's playing. It really is going to be having to come from information from Tiger himself. ... I trust Tiger to give me the straight skinny. I trust him inherently."
Woods said Friday that not playing the next few weeks will allow him to get his body into shape and strengthen his core muscles. "I need to get back in that gym and get stronger," he said.
Besides Woods, Watson will have several notable names to choose from as potential captain's picks.
Jason Dufner ranks 10th in points, dropping out of the top nine after he withdrew from the PGA due to a neck injury. It is unclear how long Dufner will be sidelined.
Major winners Keegan Bradley (13th) and Webb Simpson (15th) -- each of whom were on the 2012 U.S. team -- will be given long looks, and players such as Brandt Snedeker, Gary Woodland and Hunter Mahan are also in the top 25 in points.
Ryan Moore, Brendon Todd and Chris Kirk are ranked in the top 15 but do not have prior Ryder Cup experience.
"I'll be very, very focused on the players who are high up in the ranks," Watson said. "And with that said, there's a factor that I look at most and that's the gut factor -- the factor that, can that man play under pressure, can that man hit the shots under pressure? How do I know that? In getting to know these players, I'm getting a understanding from there, but I get an understanding from outside sources, as well."
Watson said he received a text from a player -- he would not reveal the name -- that read, "I am playing well, I've got a new driver and I'm going to make you pick me."
Said Watson: "That's the type of attitude I've consistently had from a lot of players -- I want to make you pick me. I like that."