Desperate Tom Watson Foolish to Consider Tiger Woods for Ryder Cup Team

Joe Menzer@@OneMenzFeatured ColumnistAugust 11, 2014

Tom Watson still won't let go of the notion that Tiger Woods might help the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Tom Watson still won't let go of the notion that Tiger Woods might help the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

We know it's tough out there, Tom Watson, and that your prospective three captain's picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team seem to be dropping like flies batted in midair by God's personal fly swatter.

But please, get a grip here.

We know from watching you play so competitively at the PGA Championship, and from those engaging television interviews you did, that you aren't going soft in the head or body.

So why can't you see the foolishness of continuing to entertain this notion that Tiger Woods, in his current state of health and mind, can somehow help this year's Ryder Cup team?

Yet there was Watson on Monday at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, saying once again that he's not ready to rule out the possibility of placing Woods on the U.S. team that will take on the defending champion Europeans in Gleneagles, Scotland, Sept. 26-28

"The most important thing is his health," Watson told reporters at Valhalla on Monday (via the Chicago Tribune). "I've said it consistently all the way through the issue with Tiger after his injury. If he's healthy and is playing well, I'll pick him. Right now, his health is not good.

"He is Tiger Woods and he brings a lot to the team, if he has the ability to play and he's healthy. He brings a lot to the team. And I'd be a] fool not to consider him."

Maybe Watson is playing mind games with the Europeans, who likely aren't exactly shaking in their golf spikes at the thought of taking on the Americans as presently constituted. Watson's first nine players became official at the conclusion of the PGA Championship based on the number of FedEx points they had earned.

The top nine Americans ended up being Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Zach Johnson.

Watson's squad already is without long-hitting Dustin Johnson, who has taken an indefinite leave of absence to deal with personal issues, and likely Jason Dufner, who was eighth in the FedEx points before being forced to withdraw from defense of his 2013 PGA Championship title after only nine holes in the opening round because of a neck injury.

In addition, there are now questions about Kuchar, ranked No. 6 in the world, after he withdrew before the start of the PGA Championship because of back spasms.

So maybe Watson is being noncommittal on Woods for the moment to leave the Europeans in doubt, as if they'll fear Woods riding in on his Sunday red shirt and summoning his spirit of 2008 from the Scotland sky at precisely the right moment.

Memo to Watson and anyone else who has failed to realize it: Woods is not healthy and won't be healthy anytime soon, certainly not before the Ryder Cup tees it up on Sept. 26. You think Rory McIlroy is going to be intimidated by Woods limping onto the course?

Woods might think he can be healthy in seven weeks, just as he thought he could rush back from his March 31 back surgery and immediately contend in the year's final two majors. He might work furiously toward that goal, which is commendable.

But nothing he has done since his return from back surgery would indicate his body or his game is anywhere close to being ready to do the U.S. team any good at Gleneagles. He has entered four tournaments since then; he missed the cut in the Quicken Loans National at Congressional and again at the PGA Championship, withdrew from WGC-Bridgestone Invitational when he was doubled over by back pain (as well as 18 shots off the lead) and finished 69th in the the British Open.

There is no doubt that Watson's job of rounding out this team is not easy. As Alan Shipnuck, senior golf writer for Sports Illustrated, wrote recently on, "Filling out the teams is a combustible mix of sociology, backroom politics and old-fashioned popularity contests, and the heat of the PGA brings everything to a boil."

So let us simplify this one part of the equation.

The sooner everyone, including Watson, realizes that in the best-case scenario, Woods is still months away from being close to better-than-average tour playerslet alone the top 12 U.S. players or what he once wasthe better. And the worst-case scenario is that he will never be anywhere close to what he once was, which now seems to loom as a real, very dark possibility.

It's time for Watson to quit kidding himself and anyone else foolish enough to believe Woods can be a positive factor for this year's U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Let it go and move on to someone else who might actually help give the Americans a chance at upsetting the heavily favored Europeans. Please.


Joe Menzer has written six books and now writes about golf and other sports for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @OneMenz.