Tiger Woods’ Ryder Cup chances take a hit

Mike Ehrmann

If Tiger is healthy and playing well, he’ll likely make the U.S. Ryder Cup team even if it's as a captain’s pick. But Tom Watson rescinds a guarantee that Woods is a lock to make the Gleneagles squad.

If Tiger Woods is fit enough to suit up for just one more competitive event before captain Tom Watson has to make his picks for the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team, he had better play pretty darned well if he hopes to make the squad.

Though Woods and Watson may not be the best of buddies, the skipper has said for months that he wanted a healthy Tiger in red, white, and blue come September at Gleneagles, even going so far as to tell Bob Harig ahead of the Masters he would hold a spot for the 14-time major champion regardless of his pre-Scotland performance.

Now, with word coming down from Team Tiger through Notah Begay that Woods’ recovery from back surgery will likely keep him off the field at least through June’s U.S. Open, Capt. Tom appears to have taken a step back from promising Tiger a position for the biennial match against Europe.

"One more tournament?  I'm not going to answer that," Watson said. Watson was playing alongside sure-fire Ryder Cupper and co-runner-up last week at Augusta, Jordan Spieth, in the first two rounds of this week’s RBC Heritage, when he spoke with reporters on Wednesday. "Tiger I hope just basically gets well and starts playing well again. If he gets well and is playing well, I'll pick him. But one more tournament, I don't know. I can't answer that."

Woods is currently ranked 45th in Ryder Cup standings and it seems probable that he will require one of Watson's three wild-card picks if he is to make the team. But even if Woods’ health were not a serious concern, it appeared premature for Watson to guarantee him a prized limited slot on the team, especially considering his lackluster play since he hurt his back in August combined with his career-long struggles in the Ryder Cup.

Woods, who won a measly half point for the U.S. in the Medinah meltdown in 2012 has compiled an overall 13-17-3 Ryder Cup record.

Of course, there's far more involved in adding Woods to the team than his less-than-lofty performance, and one need not look beyond last week's Masters to recognize that even the most prestigious of golf events needs the aging superstar in the field to spark widespread interest.

Certainly, the captain is aware of Woods’ importance as a ratings draw. He apparently has decided to consider Tiger’s Ryder Cup play along with his pre-surgery struggles, however, and essentially rescinded his guarantee of tapping Woods for the team.

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