Ryder Cup 2012: What a Win Would Mean to Tiger Woods' Legacy

Ryan DavenportContributor ISeptember 28, 2012

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Tiger Woods of the USA aims a tee shot during the Morning Foursome Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Even the world's best athletes have holes in their resumes.

As great as Tiger Woods has been during individual tournaments over the course of his career, he hasn't been nearly as successful when playing for his country.

Woods, now in the midst of his seventh Ryder Cup performance, has not had much to celebrate at the biennial tournament, as he's wound up on the losing side during five of his six appearances.

In the past, his lack of success at the Ryder Cup may not have been as significant as it is now, primarily because Woods' greatest challenge since his divorce and the tumultuous details of his personal life emerged has been the rehabilitation of his image away from the golf course.

No, Woods hasn't won a major since his stirring performance at the 2008 U.S. Open, but would winning a 15th major really earn him the same level of adoration and admiration that delivering the 2012 Ryder Cup would?

Debatable, at best.

Since 2002, the U.S. has lost four of the five Ryder Cups, and Woods hasn't been much of a help.

To his credit, as Christine Brennan of USA Today  pointed out, Tiger doesn't hide from his lack of success in Ryder Cup play.

Tiger Woods ran into a fierce critic the other day, a man who says Tiger is the reason the Americans have fared so poorly in Ryder Cup play over the past 15 years. It was Tiger himself.

At this stage of his career, Tiger may never surpass Jack Nicklaus' 18 majors, and he will certainly never hold the same sterling reputation he once did with his fans and supporters across the world. 

What he can do though, is take another step towards redemption by leading the U.S. to a victory this weekend, because there are few athletes that fans almost uniformly seem to enjoy watching succeed quite like Tiger.

If we get the opportunity to see him put on a virtuoso performance on an grand stage with national pride on the line, rest assured that he'll once again be championed as a hero, at least until another talking head suggests that he's intimidated by Rory McIlroy.