Jim Furyk, the US captain, said Tiger Woods has already “flipped the page” from his weekend win in the Tour Championship and is ready to play a key role in trying to help the Americans pull off a first Ryder Cup victory on European soil since 1993 in France this weekend.
In the first of a series of press conferences in the build-up to the 42nd biennial contest, which takes place at Le Golf National outside Paris, Woods was the main focus of attention as Furyk shared the same stage with his European counterpart, Thomas Bjorn, in the wake of the 42-year-old capping an astonishing recovery from a career-threatening back injury to land his first victory since 2013.
Woods was languishing as low as 1,199th in the world rankings less than a year ago following spinal fusion surgery but is up to 13th after claiming his 80th PGA Tour title, handing himself a massive boost as he prepares to line up in his first Ryder Cup since 2012.
“I think you could see the emotion in him talking about fighting back tears. I think the arms in the air and the fist in the air, it was important for him to win,” said Furyk after arriving in the French capital after an overnight flight with his players and vice captains from Atlanta.
“When you look at now, maybe comparing past Ryder Cups to this one, I think what’s so special is Tiger has engrained himself in our team atmosphere and became such a big part of the team in 2016 as a vice captain, and then again in 2017 as an assistant captain at the Presidents Cup. I think it’s special for him now to kind of join these younger players as a team-mate.
“But you know, what’s important to him right now, what’s special for him is to be a part of that team, to be a part of that group, and I think he really enjoys that right now. You know, he won yesterday as an individual and I know how much that means to him and how important it was, but he’s flipped that page pretty quickly and is really excited to join his team-mates and move forward in that process.”
Bjorn also spoke of his delight at seeing Woods return to winning ways, saying: “I spent 25 years playing professional golf with Tiger on the scene, and any time he does anything great, that’s a story and that’s where we want to see him.
“We want to see him at the top of the game. He does so much for the game of golf. Watching that last night, I thought it was brilliant to watch. It was great for the greater aspect of the game. The game of golf needs that boost of somebody like him that transcends the game to the masses.”