With the rumors swirling and the calendar inching closer to the start of the biggest head-to-head event of the year, Tiger Woods finally made the decision to withdraw from consideration for the United States team at the 2014 Ryder Cup.
Tiger made the announcement on his website, saying it's in his best long-term interest to rest and rehab to get as close to 100 percent as possible at this stage of his career:
I have already spoken to Tom [Watson] about the Ryder Cup, and while I greatly appreciate his thinking about me for a possible captain's pick, I took myself out of consideration. The U.S. team and the Ryder Cup mean too much to me not to be able to give it my best. I'll be cheering for the U.S. team. I think we have an outstanding squad going into the matches.
Considering how Tiger has been playing all year, this wasn't a hard decision to make. The real surprise is that it took this long for anyone to say anything about him not playing.
U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson was thinking about using the 14-time major champion on the team as recently as Monday, when Watson said the following to reporters at Valhalla Golf Club:
I can't assess his medical condition and I honestly can't assess how he's playing. It really is going to be having to come from information from Tiger himself.
I don't make this comment loosely. 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.
Everything about this whole situation feels calculated in a way only Tiger can pull off. Watson had no reason to consider Tiger for the United States team based on how he was playing this year.
Tiger has played in seven events this year, making the cut just four times with no top-10 finishes and missing the cut or being unable to finish his last two events. The only reason to consider him for the team is ratings.
Of course, the Ryder Cup has never been Tiger's best event. His best work has come in individual tournaments, so putting him in a team situation doesn't highlight those attributes. ESPN Stats & Info noted on Twitter how close he is to making history in a bad way:
Whether or not he's playing well, Tiger is always going to move the needle. It's why we are so interested in him being on the U.S. team despite ample evidence showing he doesn't belong on that stage.
Instead, Tiger did what was in the best interest of his solo career, which is really what he cares about, and saved himself from the public embarrassment of being left off the Ryder Cup team if Watson had been able to select him from a pool of candidates.
Ego has always been a part of Tiger's personality. If you were to ask him, he would tell you without a doubt that he's still the best golfer in the world. To see his name bandied about as a candidate for the Ryder Cup team is not something he takes lightly.
The only choice Tiger had, because of his ego and Watson's inability to come right out and say he wasn't going to pick him, was to take his name out of the running for a spot on the Ryder Cup team.
The decision allows Watson to avoid questions over the next two weeks about whether Tiger will be on the team. It allows Tiger to rest and rehab, which he clearly needs to do based on how he's played recently.
Most importantly for Tiger, though, it saves his ego from the beating it would have taken behind the scenes if Watson hadn't called his name in early September. This season has been brutal enough in that regard for arguably the greatest golfer ever.
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