2010 Ryder Cup Preview: Can Tiger Woods Answer the Critics?

Dustin Turner@@penjockeyDTCorrespondent IOctober 1, 2010

NEWPORT, WALES - SEPTEMBER 30:  Tiger Woods of the USA hits a tee shot during a practice round prior to the 2010 Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor Resort on September 30, 2010 in Newport, Wales.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Ryder Cup has never been a big deal for Tiger Woods. He went every time because he had qualified by finishing well in the tournaments he actually cared about. He always looked disinterested during the tournament and relieved as soon as it ended.

These aren't just some assumptions based on his intensity or demeanor on the course. Look at what he has said in the past about not only the Ryder Cup, but what matters most to him.

He has always been a major championship guy. That's just how he was made. He wants to be the best there ever was and that means winning the biggest tournaments, no shame in that. Woods always referred to the Ryder Cup as a cherry on the top of his year. Yes, it would be nice to have, but he's not going to lose sleep over not getting it.

And, as Woods went, so did the rest of the U.S. squad. If the best player on the team isn't performing to the best of his abilities, it's going to be very tough to win. They didn't. They lost three straight Ryder Cups with Woods on the team, that has only happened one other time.

What was astonishing more than anything, was how badly they were getting beaten. The Euro squad nearly doubled the U.S. point total in both the 2004 and 2006 Cups, winning 18.5 to 9.5 in each. 

Then in 2008, Woods needed to take some time off because of his knee surgery and guess what happened?

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The U.S. celebrated their first Ryder Cup win in nearly 10 years with Ryder Cup rookie Anthony Kim burying Sergio Garcia on the final day and Captain's Picks Chad Campbell and J.B. Holmes both winning their matches to seal the victory for the States, winning 16.5 to 11.5.

Woods now must see the Ryder Cup as a chance to prove, once again that he can be the world's best golfer, because he certainly was anything but that this past tour season.

What was once an afterthought becomes an opportunity. What was once a decoration in the icing on the cake is now his breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A strong showing on this stage will go a long way to revamping his image as a golfer.

If he can work together with his playing partners and win, then he could turn a lot of doubters into believers once more, especially if one of those partners happens to be Phil Mickelson.

Who knows, maybe Woods will even throw in a fist pump or two.