Tiger Woods has revealed that he first started to struggle with the back problem that almost ended his career when he last played in the Ryder Cup – a 2012 defeat as Europe pulled off the “Miracle at Medinah”.
“I wasn’t feeling physically well that Ryder Cup,” Woods, one of Jim Furyk’s four wild card picks for next week’s match in France after making an astonishing recovery from spinal fusion surgery in April 2017, revealed at a press conference ahead of this week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta.
“It was where my back started bugging me and that’s the only wave [Saturday’s foursomes] I’ve ever missed because I told Davis [Love, US captain] that I just really couldn’t go and I said can you put me out later on Sunday because I need the time to get my back organised.”
Woods, pictured, earned just half a point from four matches in that contest, finishing all square with Francesco Molinari in the final singles match at the venue outside Chicago after Martin Kaymer had clinched Europe’s win in the match ahead. “It was tough watching them celebrate on the 18th fairway when I thought we should have won that one,” admitted Woods, who has only been on the winning side once in seven previous Ryder Cups as a player.
“It was tough because we had a four-point lead starting out the day on Sunday and I worked my way back against Francesco (Molinari) and was one up and thought my match would be the deciding point, (but) some of the guys had some tough losses.”
Looking ahead to next week, Woods said: “I think the European side is one of the best they’ve ever had. Yeah we have a solid team, but so do the Europeans.
“It plays out over three days and it’s about playing well at the right time, partnering up at the right time and making putts. I think both teams are very deep this year going into the event so I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for both sides.”
Meanwhile, Justin Thomas has played down an injury scare ahead of next week’s clash at Le Golf National Ryder as the American bids to become the first player to win back-to-back FedEx Cup titles at East Lake.
Thomas had his right wrist taped as he gave a pre-tournament press conference in Atlanta, where he finished second behind Xander Schauffele 12 months ago to seal the overall FedEx Cup title and a $10 million bonus. The 25-year-old revealed he suffered the injury during the delayed final round of the recent BMW Championship.
“I just kind of tweaked it on the back nine of BMW and it’s more precautionary than anything,” Thomas said. “Just a little tightness and it probably looks a little worse than it is. With two big weeks coming up it’s more precautionary than anything.
“I’ve never had it happen, it just kind of popped up. I took last week off, I didn’t hit a ball but I chipped and putt a lot so my short game feels pretty good. At this time of year it’s nice to take time off – you are better off being mentally fresh than physically fresh.”