Tiger Woods' motivational text sends U.S. to hot start at Ryder Cup
September 24, 2021
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- Tiger Woods will cheer on the U.S. Team from home as he recovers from leg injuries. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Tiger Woods might be near 1,500 miles away from Whistling Straits while he recovers from leg injuries suffered in a February car accident, but he continues to play an important factor in the U.S. Ryder Cup campaign.
Woods – the 2019 U.S. Presidents Cup Captain who would have been either a player or Vice-Captain on Steve Stricker’s team if fit – sent a motivational text to the team on Cup eve and it certainly had the desired effect on the team who surged to a 6-2 lead.
Ryder Cup rookies Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele were incredible playing Foursomes together Friday morning, winning the first five holes out of the gate against European veterans Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter on their way to a 5 and 3 demolition job.
They revealed afterwards that Woods’ message had resonated and inspired them to go for the jugular when they jumped to the early lead.
“We had a nice message from Tiger last night, and obviously not going to reveal what it said, but Pat and I knew. We referred to it a few times a day, and we knew what we needed to do,” Schauffele said.
“We knew he was fist pumping from the couch. Whether he was on crutches or not, he's as fired up as any back at home. So it's nice to have his support.”
Cantlay revealed he actually visited Woods in the lead up to the competition, fresh of winning the FedExCup, as he looked to garner any advice possible.
“(There’s) no better role model and no better leader, and just somebody that you can always learn from. I saw him last week at home, and just picked his brain on Ryder Cup and applied some of that here today,” Cantlay added.
Cantlay wasn’t the only one to use Woods’ tactical advice. Tony Finau and Harris English, who sat out the morning session before pairing together for the afternoon Four-ball, also took heed of the 82-time PGA TOUR winners’ advice.
Finau was incredible with six birdies on the way to a 4 and 3 smash up over McIlroy and Shane Lowry.
“Talking to Tony today, Tiger has given Tony a little strategy for match play in Four-ball, and we kind of fed off that today,” English said. “Tiger's not with us in person, but I know he's watching and talking to Stricker a lot. We know he's got our backs, so that's really cool, and we kind of used that energy today… we could feel it.”
Finau has long been friends with Woods from his early days as a Nike athlete.
“Harry mentioned to me walking down No. 9, like how cool it was that Tiger is so into it. That's the big thing is he's so invested in this team. He's not here physically, but the gist of basically what he was saying was I'm cheering you guys on, I'm right there with you and go fight and make us proud,” Finau said.
“We were able to do that, and if TW's watching, thanks for that text, brother, I think it helped us a lot.”
When Captain Stricker was asked he preferred not the reveal exact details of the message, but members of the team insinuated it spoke to never letting up, and to keep the pressure on the Europeans at all times.
Having seen Europe come back from deficits before while winning four of the last five contests this U.S. Team is instead trying to begin a dynasty of their own.
“It is puzzling how we've lost a lot in the handful of years looking back at the past. But that's the past. We're here and we're about the present or hopefully what the future is going to be like,” Collin Morikawa said.
With six Ryder Cup rookies, and eight members of the team under 30, it really is a changing of the guard for the U.S. team. English, Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler join Morikawa, Schauffele and Cantlay as first timers but between the six they boast two majors, a FedExCup, an Olympic Gold medal and 22 PGA TOUR wins.
Morikawa paired with Dustin Johnson to win 3 and 2 over Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland Friday morning while Berger was also victorious playing with Brooks Koepka in a 2 and 1 win over Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.