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Tiger Woods won’t break out of his Ryder Cup funk until he has his own version of American star Keegan Bradley, according to former European Ryder Cup captain and current golf gadfly, Colin Montgomerie.
Montgomerie, who flitted about Medinah Country Club last week for Golf Channel and Sky Sports as the Scottish Johnny Miller, wrote in The Telegraph that Woods needed a callow acolyte to infuse the 14-time major winner with some youthful energy and passion, much as Bradley did for Phil Mickelson. Partnering with Steve Stricker may have been comfortable for Woods, but the long-time twosome turned in a dreadful 0-3 performance in team competition.
An enthusiastic newbie Woods can mentor, as Mickelson has Bradley, should be a priority for the next U.S. captain, averred Monty, adding that 40-somethings Stricker (0-for-Medinah) and Jim Furyk (1-2-0) had likely played their last Ryder Cup matches.
With captains’ picks likely to be of tender years, after the old hands proved not up to the task, Woods must “be entrusted to take a young player under his wing,” Montgomerie wrote. “It's a two-way thing, as Mickelson and Bradley showed. In fact, Mickelson was the big winner in that pairing as Bradley really fired him on to produce his best. I see a Rickie Fowler type doing the same for Tiger.
“That's what he needs to turn around his extraordinarily bad record in the Ryder Cup,” the 31-time European Tour victor continued. “He's been on the winning team just once in seven appearances. The only time America have won this century is when Woods has been injured (in 2008 at Kentucky). Woods has a big losing individual record.
“These are the facts and you can't hide from them,” concluded Montgomerie. “It is a dilemma for the next captain. But Mickelson's example shows it can be addressed.”
Mickelson, 42, took an 11-17-6 career Ryder Cup record into this year’s contest but went 3-0 with the emotional and energetic Bradley by his side. Indeed, Lefty, who cited mental fatigue when he withdrew from the Memorial Tournament earlier in the year, seemed positively revitalized by the endless enthusiasm of his playing partner.
With Woods bottoming out in his seventh Ryder Cup start last week (his first appearance without at least one W), and seeming to thrive when he goes head-to-head with Rory McIlroy in PGA Tour events, it’s difficult to argue with the logic of Montgomerie, who did note one benefit from Tiger’s “negative effect” on the U.S. squad. The “new Tiger” no longer cast an “aura and intimidating effect” on his teammates, which, the Euros’ winning leader in 2010 said, allowed the youngsters to shine.
“The U.S. unearthed a few superstars,” Montgomerie said, no doubt referring to Ryder Cup debutants Bradley (3-1-0) and Jason Dufner (3-1-0) and sophomore Dustin Johnson (3-0-0).