Roundtable: Tiger's Ryder Cup decision a good move
Tiger Woods broke the news Wednesday on his website that he was withdrawing his name from consideration for a Ryder Cup captain's pick.
Why was it a good move? Who should U.S. captain Tom Watson consider now? The Golfweek staff weighs in:
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Monday morning, following one of the most exciting major championship finishes in recent years, Tom Watson didn’t want to close the door on Tiger Woods being part of next month’s Ryder Cup.
It was curious, but certainly understandable. The U.S. captain has until Sept. 2 to make his three captain’s selections and needs to explore all possibilities. It made no sense to seal off any options early.
But certainly Watson's strong words that Tiger Woods still was weighing heavily in his considerations had to be disheartening to those 10-12 players who have been trying hard (probably too hard) to step up and impress the captain, and who at least have been showing some form. A Ryan Moore, for instance, who went into the PGA with top-20 finishes in five of his previous six starts. Or a Brandt Snedeker, whose swing changes under the eye of Butch Harmon are beginning to take hold.
“Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods,” is not currency enough to get done the job that Americans need to get done at Gleneagles in Scotland next month. No doubt, the U.S. team will be the underdog, but in this competition, it’s not the worst position from which to fight. Europe is on a big run in this event, and the only time since 1999 that the U.S. stepped in and paused it was in 2008 in Kentucky, when there happened to be a number of new players (six rookies) in the mix.
Keegan Bradley would appear to be a lock for this team. With two more options, I’d like to see Watson welcome Moore, a match-play stalwart as an amateur, or even a lesser-known wild-card such as long-hitting Brooks Koepka (who has performed well at majors and has won as a pro in Scotland) into the team over an accomplished player such as Woods, who right now has neither his health nor his form. The same goes for the possibility of moving Steve Stricker from an assistant captain’s role to a playing role. His game isn’t there. In this event, form trumps experience.
“I would prefer guys who have never been there before,” Azinger, the victorious 2008 captain, said last weekend at Valhalla. “They’re not scarred by the emotion of it, but they have to be playing well. I would prioritize somebody playing well over anybody with experience – especially now when all they’ve ever experienced is getting their ass beat.”
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Finally, a solid, sound decision by Tiger Woods, after so many confounding choices the last few years that seemed self-centered and illogical.
Rushing back from a microdiscectomy after three months, when six months was probably the call, seems to have been fueled by his ego. He has paid the price for a bad decision.
He removes Tom Watson from a precarious position. If veterans lobbied for Woods, and some were doing so, just hoping he would be 75 percent, the guess is Watson might have been swayed. The storyline would have dominated the American effort and the Europeans would have fed off it.
Now this doesn't necessarily make Watson's team better - the team still faces long odds. But if it is an indication that Woods is of a reasonable mind again, it bodes well for him and the game.
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In withdrawing from Ryder Cup consideration, Tiger Woods not only did the right thing, he did the only sensible thing–for the sake of his health and the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Captain Tom Watson said he'd only pick him if Woods were playing well and healthy. Woods has been neither. So this is a no-brainer. The universe seems to be spinning on a proper axis.
The Ryder Cup already is a global extravaganza. Imagine the circus it would have been if Woods were to show up in Scotland surrounded by questions about his back, game, swing, etc. This clearly is the best for everyone.
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It clearly had to be a difficult decision for Tiger Woods because he has said on more than one occasion, including after missing the cut at the PGA Championship last week, that he wanted to be on Tom Watson’s team that will make the trip to Gleneagles, Scotland, in September.
By making the early decision, Woods has stepped up for the best of a U.S. team that already has its issues, with Dustin Johnson out, an injured Jason Dufner possibly unavailable and Matt Kuchar dealing with back issues.
Now Woods will be unavailable to Watson and miss the Ryder Cup for only the second time since turning professional in 1996.
Oddly enough, the last time Woods missed the biennial event was in 2008, the last time the U.S. won the Ryder Cup.
Many observers think that a healthy Woods would be an asset to any U.S. Ryder Cup team. Unfortunately for the U.S., Woods has not been healthy for most of the 2014 season and clearly would not have been a benefit.
Woods' withdrawal also might have saved Watson from making a terrible mistake.