Why we think Tiger makes the US Ryder Cup team
In February, Tiger was announced as one of Team USA’s vice-captains. He was 539th in the world, 104th on the points standings and had just sprayed his way around all corners of Torrey Pines on only his second official start since August 2015. Ask any commentator at the time and you’d get better odds on panto villain Patrick Reed receiving friendly European support at Le Golf Club National than Big Cat playing his way on to the team.
Fortunately Tiger had other ideas. “My goal is to make the team but whatever happens over the course of this season, I will continue to do whatever I can to help us keep the cup,” he said at the time. “Why can’t I have both? I like both.”
After finishing tied-6th at The Open, Woods is now 20th in the latest US qualifying list despite playing in only 12 ranking events – around half the number of his rivals. The top eight make it automatically before Furyk chooses four wildcard picks.
More importantly, he is now inside the world’s top 50 and eligible to play in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational where there are bundles of points available. Given there are only three tournaments remaining – the Canadian Open, Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship – before the eight spots are tied up it would take a huge effort to thrust his way in via this route. He is nearly 2,000 points behind Webb Simpson who currently occupies the final spot and, as a guide, a win at the PGA would give him approximately 3,700.
Furyk will announce his first three wildcard picks after the Dell Technologies on September 3 before the final piece of the jigsaw is revealed after the BMW the week after. So, if Furyk does need any more nudging, there is still plenty of time. At the start of this week Furyk played things down, as you would expect.
“I’m going to handle [Tiger] the way I do everyone else. I’ll ask my top eight guys. The way he’s playing, he might be one of them. I’ll ask the vice-captains, collectively, and I think we’ll do the best we can to round out the team. We want the guys playing the best.”
Anyone see any negatives here for Tiger? He has just led The Open on the back nine on Sunday. Those who have already made the team idolise him having grown up watching him blow everyone away for the best part of 20 years – rather than have him impact too much on their own careers. His form for the past five months has been rock-solid – six top 20s in his last 10 starts – with plenty of hints that he is on the verge of winning again.
Furyk has just enjoyed a scouting trip to Le Golf National with a number of hopefuls. It will all be very different in the last week of September but Tony Finau supposedly hit mainly 3-irons off the tee.
“It’s a good second-shot golf course,” Furyk said. Sounds perfect for Tiger.