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Tiger Woods may be the ultimate “lone wolf” to some critics, but the world No. 2, who contributed a meaningless half a point to his 2012 Ryder Cup squad, took last month’s squander to the Europeans harder than any individual tournament loss.
In the time that's passed since the Ryder Cup wrapped up, Tiger Woods has had a chance to think about the loss, and what it means to him, considering this was a team competition -- not one that he played solely for himself.
“It’s far different. It is far different,” Woods told reporters about how the disappointment of letting his teammates down compared with falling short in competitions he plays for personal glory.
“It's a little bit harder,” Woods said during a Wednesday press conference to announce a new sponsor and lineup teeming with U.S. Ryder Cuppers for his annual World Challenge event. "When you're out there by yourself, the only one who really cares is your immediate family, your caddie and ‑‑ I don't think even your dog really cares when you get home.”
Woods talked about the bonding that takes place during Ryder Cup week between and among teammates -- especially those who have donned the red, white and blue over the years.
“It's just one of those things where we're so accustomed in our individual sports, 51 weeks out of the year, of playing for ourselves, and we have one week every year, at least the U.S. side does, in which we have to compete in a team format,” Woods said. “You really have a really strong sense of camaraderie and just an amazing spirit and energy that happens in these team events. When something doesn't happen right, doesn't happen positively, it is tough, and it's tough losing those events because we put everything we possibly have into it, and it's either win or lose, and we didn't get it done this time.”
Playing in his seventh Ryder Cup, Woods went 0-3-1, his lone tie coming after the Euros had completed a stunning comeback from a four-point deficit entering Sunday’s singles finale to overtake the home team, 14.5-13.5. Woods explained why he apologized to the four first-timers on his team for his lackluster performance.
“The rookies had done some amazing work the first four sessions, and they really, really played well, earned a bunch of points, and I felt that I hadn't contributed anything, which I hadn't done,” Woods said. “I mean, I was 0 and 3 with [Steve Stricker in team competition], and we hadn't earned any type of point value for our team.
"These guys have played well. They were earning points for the team, and I just wanted to say, ‘Hey, guys, you know what, I'm trying my best, but also, then again, I haven't earned anything for you guys,” Woods continued. “As a teammate, you know, that's a tough feeling, being on a team like that when you're not earning points for your team, because ultimately you go there to win and lose as a team, and the goal was to win, and I wasn't contributing to our point total.”
Woods also announced that he would kick off his 2013 season where he began this year’s campaign -- at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where his on-course friendship with world No. 1 Rory McIlroy took root -- and would decide on the rest of his schedule in the weeks to come.
McIlroy will also be in the Middle Eastern field when Woods begins his season on Jan. 17.
In the meantime, with 12 of Woods’ teammates on the roster, as well as European stars Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell, the Nov. 28-Dec. 2 World Challenge will serve as a Ryder Cup reunion of sorts. In addition to the Ryder Cup players (only Phil Mickelson from the U.S. side will be a no-show), Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Bo Van Pelt and Nick Watney will also participate in the unofficial, no-cut, 18-player event.
The competition, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, has additional special meaning for the host, who broke his two-year winless drought last year at Sherwood Country Club, the site of the World Challenge since 2000, when he beat Zach Johnson by one shot.
Chevron, which had sponsored the event, declined to re-up after last year’s gig. Northwestern Mutual signed on as the presenting sponsor for the tourney, which will offer $1 million in prize money.