Tiger Woods, as U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson is well aware, has been struggling with a bad back that has hindered his practice sessions as well as his on-course performance, the latter of which, with few exceptions, has been less than stellar.
"Tiger has not played well and is injured. That’s a story in itself," Watson told reporters on Thursday, ahead of the Champions Tour’s Toshiba Classic at in Newport Beach, Calif. "I want Tiger to be on the team in the worst way. I just hope he’s healthy enough to be able to play."
U.S. Ryder Cup dream team
•SBNation.comPatrick Reed believes Tiger Woods is a worthy Ryder Cup partner for his ‘top-5’ game.
The skipper and the player have had their issues over the years and Woods, with a 13-17-3 record and playing on only one winning team in his seven Cup starts, has not replicated his major championship and PGA Tour success (14 and 79 titles, respectively) in the biennial team matches with Europe. This year, with a missed cut at Torrey Pines, a withdrawal from the Honda Classic, and a T25 at Doral in his three tour events, Tiger will enter Bay Hill at 40th in the Ryder Cup point standings.
Should Woods continue to scuffle the rest of the season at his current pace, Watson would have to make him a captain’s pick. But the eight-time major champion was not willing to consider such an option some six months before the games begin.
"It’s really early yet, way too early to tell," said Watson, who could have been referring either to Woods’ injury status or Ryder Cup ranking, or both.
While he was not willing to make another Ryder Cup wannabe’s dreams comes true just yet, Watson noted that he has taken note of the brash Patrick Reed. The 23-year-old winner of the WGC-Cadillac Championship said after capturing his one-stroke victory at Doral that, in addition to placing himself among the top-5 players in the world, he would love to partner with Woods at Gleneagles.
"Well, when you win, you have that aura that you're at the top of your game and it's hard for anybody to beat you. That's a good place to be," said Watson, who cautioned the three-time tour winner, who’s currently 113th Ryder Cup points, about the "low spells" he was sure to experience.
"As we all know, the game can turn on you and it will turn on you," Watson said. "What Patrick said, I can understand him saying that, but after 14 events and winning three of them, I guess maybe he has a little bit of street cred. After my first event winning, I said I hope my goal was to be the best golfer in the world. After winning three out of the first 14, you've got to give the guy a little bit of credit."