Tiger Woods tipped to be '˜great' Ryder Cup captain

Tiger Woods has been tipped to become a 'great captain' in the Ryder Cup one day as he prepares to play a supporting role for the United States for the second time in 12 months in one of golf's big team events.
Tiger Woods was a vice-captain at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, helping the US to victory.  Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesTiger Woods was a vice-captain at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, helping the US to victory.  Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Tiger Woods was a vice-captain at the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, helping the US to victory. Picture: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

As was the case at last year’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, the 14-time major winner is an assistant captain – for Steve Stricker on this occasion – for the Presidents Cup, which gets underway at Liberty National, close to New York, on Thursday. It will be Woods’ first public appearance on a golf course since the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February, having been sidelined with his ongoing back issues since having to withdraw from that event after just one round.

In a recent blog, the former world No 1 admitted he has no timetable for his return as he is only able to hit 60-yard shots at the moment and, barring a spectacular comeback, Woods is likely to have to settle to be an assistant captain’s role again at next year’s Ryder Cup in Paris.

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The odd eyebrow was raised when Davis Love asked the 41-year-old to fill that position in Minnesota due to fears that Woods might overshadow the occasion. That certainly wasn’t the case, though, and, as the PGA of America try to build on a welcome win in that match by achieving some continuity in the backroom team, it is almost certain that he’s been earmarked for the same role by new captain Jim Furyk.

“He’s been a vice, so he’s in that role,” said Paul Levy, the president of the PGA of America, during a visit to Scotland to take part in Carnoustie Golf Club’s 175th anniversary celebrations. “We want to feed him and others through the system. That [Woods overshadowing the event] wasn’t the case at Hazeltine, was it? He’ll be a great captain one day. I mean, he’s Tiger Woods. Both him and Phil [Mickelson] will be in the mix in the next few years. Tiger is right in there.”

It was Mickelson, of course, who publically criticised Tom Watson in the wake of a 
16½-11½ defeat in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, leading to the task force that played its part in creating a set up and environment that helped Love lead his side to a 17-11 victory 
at Hazeltine.

“I don’t know if needed is the right word,” said Levy as he reflected on Mickelson’s comments in Perthshire. “Phil is a very strong-minded man with strong opinions. The culmination of that week just came out. I don’t think I would say those opinions would have changed everything.

“I was there. It was a tough day, we had lost. Some people say they should give credit because that spurred it [the US reorganising]. Let’s face it, Phil is an emotional guy. He loves the game, he loves the Ryder Cup. He was frustrated, that’s the way I look at it.

“We’re now in a good position. The players had ownership at Hazeltine. Not just from the standpoint of picking the captain but everything. They were more engaged, more involved earlier than ever. Tiger was texting and communicating with Davis. The vice captains were all engaged and just excited. The fact the PGA was willing to give more ownership, they saw that as a great sign. That energised the leadership in the captain and the vice captains and that permeated down into the desire of the players. I’ve attended every Ryder Cup since 1997. By giving more ownership and empowering them it’s been a great thing and it will continue to be great for us.”

Next year’s match is taking place at Le Golf National outside Paris, where Furyk will lock horns with Dane Thomas Bjorn in only the second contest to be played in Continental Europe.

“The taskforce is put away and now we have the Ryder Cup committee,” said Levy as he looked forward to seeing the Americans defending the trophy for the first time since 2010.

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“We have continuity, where as in the past the PGA of America just picked the captain. After this cup, there will be some new faces. We’ve got Jim Furyk and he’ll be on the committee ahead of the 2020 Ryder Cup. In the past, we never had this continuity.”