Mike Aitken's Ryder Cup blog - Friday

Such is the lofty standing of the man in the game and the intense aura which surrounds the world No 1, it's a testament to the enduring appeal and prestige of the Ryder Cup that the absence of Tiger Woods from Valhalla hasn't overshadowed the 37th staging of the match in Kentucky.

TV ratings for golf in America are down since the great man won the US Open on one leg in June and subsequently underwent a knee operation which will keep the winner of 14 majors out of action until next season.

If he was missed by armchair viewers at the Open and the US PGA, which were both won by Padraig Harrington, it will be interesting to see if his non-appearance in Louisville has any bearing on America's appetite for the Ryder Cup.

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Unlike golf's four majors and every other event you can think of, the biennial match between Europe and the USA has yet to embrace Tiger. He rarely looks comfortable in team matches and was an obvious scalp for opposition players after making his debut at Valderrama in 1997.


Confronting Europe without Tiger for the first time in 13 years, Bob Torrance, Scotland's most esteemed coach, reckons the Yanks may benefit. "His absence could make them play better," said the instructor. "They might step up a gear because he isn't there.

"Woods is a zero per cent team man. If the Americans lost 11 of the 12 singles and Tiger was the one who won, he would be quite happy with that. I think he had a lot to say with the pairings the Americans put out when that should have been the captain's job. I heard him arguing with Davis Love on the verandah of the Belfry, after Love hadn't played the last hole because the match had been won by Europe. Tiger told him that wasn't right. He played out and thought Love should have as well."

Although he declined an invitation from Paul Azinger to attend the match as a vice-captain, America's captain can't see anything constructure in the loss of Tiger. "How can I paint a positive picture for the greatest player on earth not to be here," he said.

If the USA win for the first time since 1999 on Sunday, maybe Azinger will change his mind.