The last time Tiger Woods played a competitive round of golf, he shot a six-over-par 78 in the final round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship. His back was clearly giving him fits, and the fact that he was even playing was a bit surprising.
That was three months ago. In the time since then, he’s fallen to fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking. He has just 43 FedEx Cup points, and will miss his second major championship of the 2014 season when he sits out this week’s US Open at Pinehurst.
Given all that, it’s no surprise that American Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson is prepared to guarantee Woods a spot on the roster, right? It shouldn’t be.
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Watson said that Woods will be an “automatic” captain’s pick, with the only question being his health. I think we all recognize that when Tiger is able to play his best game, he’s the best player on the planet. It’s a no-brainer.
Not only that, but the international competition gets his competitive juices flowing. In last year’s President’s Cup, Woods went 4-1-0, leading all players in points earned, and clinched the cup for Team USA by defeating Richard Sterne in the Sunday singles matches. However, the Ryder Cup is on a different level, and after earning just a half point in 2012’s matches, Woods is sure to be out for revenge this time around.
Then, of course, there’s the significance to Watson. In four Ryder Cup appearances as a player, Watson holds a 10-4-1 record, and in 1993 he captained Team USA to victory at The Belfry. In the nine Cups since then, the European team has dominated with seven wins. As Watson made much of his legend in Europe with five Open Championship victories, bringing the cup back to American soil would be a significant accomplishment at this stage of his career.
Even with the doubts currently surrounding Woods’s health, there can be no question that if he’s capable, having him on the roster at Gleneagles gives the American team the best chance at reversing recent fortunes and bringing the title back stateside.