Ryder Cup 2012: Will Tiger Woods Be a Better Team Player This Time Around?

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer ISeptember 28, 2012

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Tiger Woods of the USA walks to the stage during the Opening Ceremony for the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 27, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

You can look at Tiger Woods' struggles in team play at the Ryder Cup in a couple of ways: He's not comfortable playing on a team or his teammates aren't comfortable playing alongside him.

Woods is 4-1-1 in singles play during his career at the Ryder Cup, but he is 9-13-1 in foursomes and fourballs play.

On Tuesday, Woods took the blame for Team USA's 1-5 record against Team Europe in his appearances, saying, via the Orlando Sentinel, "Certainly I'm responsible for that because I didn't earn the points that I was put out there for."

Now, there is something to be said about the fact that Woods has been beaten by players such as Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood throughout the years at the Ryder Cup, but he's also been partnered up with players such as Mark O'Meara, Justin Leonard, Tom Lehman, David Duval, Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker.

So what is it? 

Love made an interesting point before this year's Ryder Cup, via the Orlando Sentinel report: "Somebody has to play in Tiger's bubble. You have to be a special guy to be able to handle that."

Now, Love was talking about the gallery that follows Woods at every hole, but "playing in Tiger's bubble" could also mean something else entirely. In short, Woods has never been the most easygoing guy, around the media or the tour in general. He was closed out throughout his career and at times appeared to be in his own world. In that respect, it would make sense that Woods has played better alone than on a team. His very nature and personality projects him to be more equipped to take care of business himself.

On the other hand, we've seen a different Tiger this year, a more genial Tiger. He doesn't seem to feel as if the media is out to get him anymore, and his interviews have generally supported that notion. You can tell he's loosened up by the fact that he smiles freely a lot more in front of the media and the crowd that surrounds him on a daily basis.

Perhaps this will change history for Tiger. Perhaps the very fact that he seems more comfortable around people this year will make him feel more comfortable on a team at the pressure-packed Ryder Cup.

I like Tiger's and Team USA's chances this year.


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