Of all the players on the American squad with something to prove heading into this week’s President’s Cup competition, perhaps the most driven will be the best player in the world, Tiger Woods.
Woods heads to Muirfield Village fresh off an excellent 2013 PGA Tour season in which his only disappointments were not bringing home a major or the FedEx Cup, despite leading the points race for essentially the entire year. In singles competition, he’s back on top of the golf world, but when it comes to the team game, he’s got to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
The reason for that, of course, is that he just hasn’t been that good in recent years of international matches. In last year’s Ryder Cup, for instance, Woods lost three straight matches in foursomes and four-ball with partner Steve Stricker. He actually had the lead in his Sunday singles match against Francesco Molinari going into the 18th, but a bogey finish cost him half a point.
If you go back to the 2011 President’s Cup at Royal Melbourne, Woods lost three matches that year as well, although he and Dustin Johnson did defeat Adam Scott and K.J. Choi. Woods’s singles victory over Aaron Baddeley did clinch the cup for the American side, but Woods hasn’t had an individual winning record since 2010’s Ryder Cup.
American captain Fred Couples and assistant Davis Love III say that they already have a plan for all the pairings in the early matches. Does that mean Tiger will get to play with Stricker again, as the two have famously not only played well together in these matches but also get along well in general? Perhaps he’ll be paired with newcomer Jordan Spieth, or even more entertaining, with Phil Mickelson. Okay, maybe not with Phil, but the possibilities are exciting nonetheless.
The best thing for Tiger will be his familiarity with the host course. He’s won five times on his own at Jack Nicklaus‘s club, and although he struggled in this season’s Memorial Tournament, that familiarity will serve him well. It’s time for Woods to step up and prove that he’s ready to dominate these matches once again.