Tiger Woods is loose and striping it at Ryder Cup after win No. 80

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Tiger Woods is loose and striping it at Ryder Cup after win No. 80

2018 Ryder Cup

Tiger Woods is loose and striping it at Ryder Cup after win No. 80

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Tiger Woods arrived about 15 minutes late to a jam-packed interview tent Tuesday ahead of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National.

It’s a big space as far as interview tents go, with 264 tightly-lined chairs, a large platform for TV cameras in the back and a glassed-off radio bank to the side.

Coffee cup in hand, Woods entered through a side door behind a few burly men in Lacoste sweaters. He took his seat and immediately seemed at ease.

“Last week turned out OK,” he said.

It was one of the greatest weeks of Woods’ career as he ended a five-year winless drought and took home career victory No. 80 at the Tour Championship. Later that night he celebrated at the temporary U.S. team home base at a hotel near the airport and got on a plane to Paris.

Since then it’s been a whirlwind of travel and prep and time change acclimation, including a Tuesday afternoon practice round with Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed. That’s why he said he hasn’t really had time to process the monumental achievement and everything that happened at East Lake.

“I haven’t really had a lot of time to soak it in,” Woods said. “I will post-Ryder Cup. I’ll take a look back and reflect on it. I haven’t seen any videos (other than) a couple of them on some French news channel, the people rushing behind me, but I haven’t sat down and watched it yet. I still have this event to do. Post-Ryder Cup it will be a different story. I will look back and soak it up and really reflect on what transpired that entire week.”

For quite a few Ryder Cup teammates, it was the first time he’d won since they’ve joined the Tour. Guys like Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth have said multiple times they’d love the chance to go up against Woods on the back nine some Sunday. Now that Woods has won again it’s easier to think about those possibilities and some of the dream scenarios we might get to see in the following years.

“When my game is there, I feel like I’ve always been a tough person to beat,” Woods said. “They have jokingly been saying, ‘We want to go against you.’ Alright. Here you go. And we had a run at it and it was a blast, because I had to beat Rory (McIlroy) heads-up in the final group. (Justin Rose) was tied with Rory. Obviously I had a three-shot (cushion) which is awfully nice, but still, I had not done it in five years. These guys have both ascended to No. 1 players in the world, they have won major championships, they have won golf tournaments all around the world and I have not really played a whole lot of golf the last few years.”

Woods seemed as relaxed as he’s been all year. Probably a mix of the win and the fact that having teammates around keeps everyone loose. The ensuing Mickelson, Reed and DeChambeau press conferences were even more free-wheeling, and at one point Reed got a microphone while Mickelson was talking and asked him if he was nervous about The Match with Woods after what happened at East Lake.

“Tiger striped it today,” Mickelson said. “I think he missed one fairway for the round, and I’m trying to negotiate a shot a side. … We’ve got some negotiating to do given how well he played this week.”

Woods wasn’t asked many questions about the actual golf he’s about to play, and there are interesting questions.

How many drivers will he hit? The fairways are tight and the rough is thick so it won’t be a ton, but the driver has been a big strength ever since the PGA Championship.

Who makes for the best partner? DeChambeau is the assumed first choice, but Thomas and others could make equally strong pairings. Even Mickelson played coy when asked if they could team up again.

How are his energy levels? Captain Jim Furyk said they’ve been good and he definitely seemed chipper, but it’s been a long season culminating with what had to be an emotionally-draining Sunday at East Lake.

We’ll unravel the specifics and more as the week goes on. For now, what he did at the Tour Championship is still at golf’s forefront and about the only thing that could possibly overshadow Ryder Cup hype with the matches still three days away.

Most of the questions were related to East Lake and vague in scope, including one at the end about the massive TV ratings.

“Honestly I didn’t see the ratings, so I don’t know. Are they good?” Woods deadpanned.

They were better than most.

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