Tiger Woods sheds his Ryder Cup futility when he puts on the red, white, and blue for the off-year biennial battles with the Internationals in the Presidents Cup.
The world No. 1, who went a woeful 0-3-1 in the U.S.’ colossal collapse last year at Medinah and sports a lackluster 13-17-3 record in seven Ryder Cup appearances, owns a 20-14-1 mark when he goes up against gamers from the parts of the world that do not include Europe. Certainly, the intensity level of the 19-year-old Presidents Cup comes nowhere close to that of the far more traditional contests between the Americans and Euros, but, until the last few years, no one ever doubted Woods’ steely determination or mental makeup.
In any case, Woods shares PC history with Jim Furyk as the only two golfers to have 20 wins, including five singles Ws, in the nine matches that began in 1994 as a chance to give the rest of the globe a Ryder Cup-like opportunity to compete with the Americans. He stands alone with 10 victories in foursomes competition.
Woods enters this year’s matches after a fifth straight season without winning a major championship and fatigued from a strenuous (by his own standards) work schedule and sore back that contributed to a rocky finish to his year. But his five-win campaign, money title, and lowest adjustable score earned Woods a record 11th Player of the Year award.
Tiger will also be playing this week at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village, a course on which he’s won five times in 14 starts, never missed a cut, and has eight top-10 finishes. Most recently, however, Woods carded his worst round on the track back in June, a 79 in the third round of the Memorial.
Can Woods recreate some of his Memorial magic, like the chip-in on the 16th on his way to his 2012 title, this week at Jack’s place? And will Tiger saddle up with his unofficial putting guru and traditional team partner Steve Stricker, or has that marriage run its course after the duo’s poor performance at Medinah?
Perhaps an infusion of youthful energy by PC rookies Jordan Spieth and Keegan Bradley, similar to the exuberance the latter brought to his Medinah matches with Phil Mickelson, could be just what Woods needs to overcome his late-season swoon.
World Ranking: 1
Qualified: Automatic spot No. 1 of 10
Presidents Cup Match Play Record: 20-14-1 (1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011)