As Tiger Woods tapped in for birdie on hole No. 18 on Friday at the 2014 PGA Championship, his season looked to be over. Having not done enough to qualify for the FedEx Cup, it seemed nearly impossible that he'd done enough to earn a captain's choice for the Ryder Cup.
Not so, says the person who is actually making the decision.
Speaking at a Monday press conference in preparation for next month's trip to Scotland, United States captain Tom Watson said Woods is still receiving consideration:
"I want you to pick me," Woods said, according to Watson, via CBS Sports' Kyle Porter.
The former world No. 1 has endured his worst season as a professional. Amid back trouble and wild inconsistencies in his game, Woods failed to win a tournament for the second time in his career (2010). He missed cuts in four of his seven events and did not finish any better than a tie for 25th.
Since returning from a microdiscectomy on his back, Woods' game has been even more out of sorts. The 14-time major champion missed the cut in three of four events, including his own Quicken Loans National event.
Health has been the key question throughout his struggles, as Woods has been seen clutching his back multiple times over the last couple of weeks.
"It throws everything off," Woods told reporters of how the back pain affects his swing. "I can't get anywhere near the positions that I'm accustomed to getting to or any of it. I can't do it. I've got to rely on timing, hands and hopefully I can time it just right. "
Woods will have a few weeks off to see if he can get back to full health. Sitting 218th in the standings, he did not qualify for the PGA's FedEx Cup. He will therefore be ineligible to play in any of the tour's events for the remainder of the 2014 season.
Watson said knowing Woods' health status will be the biggest factor in whether he is selected:
Woods last missed the Ryder Cup in 2008 when recovering from knee surgery. The international tournament has never been his strength, as he holds a career 13-14-2 record. He typically fares much better in singles competitions (4-1-1) than when partnered with another player.
The injury issues and so-so overall record have left many calling for Watson to leave Woods off the roster.
"He has gone from the artist to the engineer," former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger told reporters. "It is difficult to watch a Vincent Van Gogh paint by numbers. We want to see Tiger come back and get all of this stuff out of his head."
Regardless of outside opinion, the odds are stacked against Woods at the moment. He currently sits 71st in the Ryder Cup point standings.
Typically, even captain's picks—ones designed to build the best overall team without the point requirements—are golfers within striking distance of the top nine. The likes of Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner and Harris English may get consideration over Woods.
And as Watson notes, Woods' health hangs over everything. It is entirely possible that Woods is not feeling up to snuff and takes the decision out of the 64-year-old legend's hands.
Given the way he's played and the obvious pain on his face, that might be the best result for all parties.
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