Tiger Woods’ performance at last week’s PGA Championship was a marked improvement over the worst outing of his entire career the previous week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
But improvement doesn’t automatically make one worthy of a captain’s pick for the 2010 Ryder Cup matches set to take place in Wales in October.
The sheer fact that we seem encouraged and even excited about Woods’ 24th place finish at the PGA Championship should be evidence enough that this guy might not be the right choice for one of the four coveted Ryder Cup captain’s picks.
If the 2010 Ryder Cup were taking place in the United States rather than in Wales, one might consider Woods for the team.
Who knows, the encouragement and support of the American crowd might have actually released him from the depths of his current “slump.”
But the matches are not taking place in America, and you can count on a hostile European crowd to verbally abuse Woods more than the post-BALCO Barry Bonds.
You name it. Every derogatory, hurtful and downright disgusting comment you can think of will by flying Woods’ way over in Wales, which will not only cause a distraction for Woods, but for his teammates as well.
Woods has always been erratic off the tee. Part of his genius is that he still manages to find a way to score and win golf tournaments while spending most of his Sunday afternoons in the trees.
However, this year is different.
Woods is currently 181st on tour in driving accuracy.
God help Steve Stricker if he happens to be paired with Woods in a foursomes match…he’ll need to trade in his 60 degree wedge for a weed whacker and a compass.
Call is a coincidence, great captaining by Paul Azinger or simply a situation where the entire American squad happened to be playing great golf at the exact same time, but the 2008 American Ryder Cup team looked more like a “team” than any other in the past decade.
The guys looked relaxed.
They meshed well together.
And they all seemed to thoroughly enjoy their Ryder Cup experience.
That has not been the case when Woods has been a Ryder Cup team member, and it’s not really Woods’ fault.
A guy with 14 major championships, 71 PGA Tour wins and an aura that just exudes confidence is not the easiest person to feel comfortable around, no matter what his personality may be like behind closed doors in the team room.
Plain and simple, a lot of guys just feel uncomfortable while in Woods’ presence, and that’s not in any way a knock on Woods…it just is what it is.
Woods has broken 70 just once in his last 16 rounds and that one exception came on a benign day at St. Andrews where virtually everyone broke 70 and Rory McIlroy tied a major championship record with a round of 63 that could have easily been a 61 or 62.
The fact that we are encouraged and even excited about Woods’ performance at the PGA Championship shows that times have a changed.
Woods finished 24th at Whistling Straights and failed to break 70 all week.
If that were two years ago we’d be asking “what the #%*& is wrong with Tiger Woods?”
Fast forward to the present and it’s considered encouraging progress, which doesn’t exactly scream out “AUTOMATIC RYDER CUP PICK!”
Bo Van Pelt, Nick Watney, J.B. Holmes, Rickie Fowler, Rickey Barnes, Sean O’Hair…these are all guys that have played far better than Tiger Woods in 2010.
Now, typically the likes of Bo Van Pelt, Rickey Barnes and J.B. Holmes don’t even enter the same sentence as Tiger Woods when comparing golf skills. But, this is a different Tiger Woods. Remove the name and you simply have a guy that has struggled with his golf game all year…and guys that struggle with their golf games are usually not the most prudent Ryder Cup captain’s picks.