Tiger Woods Ryder Cup 2012: After Dispiriting Start, Where Does He Go from Here?

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistSeptember 28, 2012

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Tiger Woods of the United States reacts to a poor shot during the Afternoon Four-Ball Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 28, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

It was one of those days for Tiger Woods at the Ryder Cup on Friday. One of those days that, at one point in time, seemed farcical but have now become painfully, hopelessly happenstance.

Woods was atrocious in the morning foursome setting, allowing Ian Poulter and Justin Rose to sit back and let his errors doom the US. And although he was a little better in the afternoon, it wasn't enough to get him and Steve Stricker over the hump; they were the only American duo that lost both of its matches on Friday.

But the worst of it came after the round for Tiger when it was announced that, for the first time in his illustrious career, Woods would be sitting out the Saturday round. Sorry, Tiger, we don't need you for this one.

The announcement was so inevitable, so pragmatic and yet it still seemed to come out of left field. I still needed to read it twice to believe it. Tiger Woods. The Tiger Woods. Ready, willing and able to play, but Davis Love thinks we have a better chance without him. Cue Armageddon in 3, 2, 1....

The concept of a "low point" is nebulous in the world of Tiger Woods, where off-course issues have played such a vital part of his narrative. But as far as on-course actions are concerned, this has to be one of the lowest moments in his career, right? He got benched! When has anybody ever not wanted Tiger Woods on their golf team?

But that's the past. The real question is this: Where does Tiger go from here?

Well, it sure as heck puts a lot of pressure on Tiger's final round at Ryder. All golfers participate in Sunday singles, which gives Tiger one more chance to redeem himself.

The Masters doesn't tee off until April 11. That's six months and change until he gets a chance to redeem himself on a major stage––a stage that really matters. This is, is many ways, our farewell to high-stakes golf for the year. Is this the taste Tiger wants to leave in our mouths?

It's sad because Tiger actually had an improved year. True, until he finally ends his major drought, his failures will always outweigh his successes. But by being in contention during the weekends at majors this year, Woods took a step toward regaining his old form.

But if this is the last image he gives us in 2012, good look getting us to remember all his mini-triumphs. No, if Tiger falters––or even worse, costs his country the cup––in the final, it will be fair to ask whether or not he's done.

And as far as his mental state of mind appears....it'd be hard to argue otherwise.