The Ryder Cup golf event at Celtic Manor is still months away, but some of the rhetoric already has started to escalate.
European captain Colin Montgomerie got things started this week, telling Sky News that American golfer Tiger Woods is "not mentally with it right now, that's obvious. I hope he gets back to some form shortly."
It would be stunning if we don't hear some sort of response from Woods this weekend, as he competes in the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio. Woods struggled mightily in the first round, leading to more questions about the shape of his golf game with the PGA Championship just a week away.
Another thing weighing on Woods: his Ryder Cup team eligibility. He sat ninth in the standings heading in to the Bridgestone Invitational, and the top eight in Ryder Cup points make the U.S. team automatically, leaving captain Corey Pavin to select two more players. During his Tuesday news conference in Akron, Woods insisted he would make the team on his own, without needing a "captain's choice."
As our SB Nation golf blog, Waggle Room, reported:
Woods repeated three times, "I'm planning on playing my way into the team."
With two events to go, there is a good chance he will still make it on his own. He doesn't seem willing to publicly discuss or consider the possibility of not making it outright.
Montgomerie, meanwhile, had plenty more to say, especially after Woods' first-round 74 at the Bridgestone:
"But more importantly right now for Tiger is thinking about the Ryder Cup, he's not in the top eight of their qualifying. It doesn't look like he's going to be in the top eight after this event anyway and that makes the US PGA a very important event for him next week. Does Corey Pavin take a chance hoping Tiger's form will change before the Ryder Cup? That's up to him and not us."