Tuesday 12 December 2017

Ryder cup doubt for Woods

Tiger Woods. Photo: Getty Images
Tiger Woods. Photo: Getty Images

Tiger Woods is scheduled to meet Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin at the US PGA Championship this week with his golf game now appearing to resemble what has happened to his private life this past year - a total shambles.

And unless there is a dramatic improvement at Whistling Straits it really does look open to doubt whether Woods will be at Celtic Manor in October.

The only good thing that he could take out of the worst performance of his entire career last week was that it did not cost him the world number one spot.

That was only because Phil Mickelson, needing a top four finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational to topple Woods, managed only 46th after a terrible closing 78.

But Mickelson's late demise, revealing though that was about him, still did not come close to the week-long meltdown suffered by the man who has now been at the head of the rankings for the last 270 weeks and for 612 weeks in all.

Woods was joint 78th out of 80 in a tournament he had won on his previous four attempts and a record seven times in all - and nowhere before has he handed in an 18 over par total.

America's Ryder Cup qualifying race ends at Whistling Straits this Sunday. Woods is 10th on the table, but only the leading eight earn automatic places.

Like predecessor Paul Azinger, Pavin is to take three weeks before naming his four wild cards. But no matter how much he might wants Woods - and that is debatable given how well Azinger's side did without him - the big question is how much Woods wants to play.

The match has never been a huge priority for him and with his mind seemingly elsewhere and his form at an all-time low, albeit with the contest still seven weeks away, it would be no great surprise to see Woods opt out.

There are, after all, far more important things than a golf contest.

Asked if he wanted to play he replied before leaving Akron: "Not playing like this, definitely not, not playing like this.

"I mean, I wouldn't help the team if I'm playing like this. No-one would help the team if they're shooting 18 over par."

On whether he would pick himself Woods said: "I think I can turn it around, but we've got a lot of time between now and then, which is good."

After taking four months off when his sex scandal came to light last November another extended break cannot be ruled out.

"I don't know," he commented when that possibility was put to him. "I'm just going to be ready for Thursday."

Woods chose not to go into too many specifics about his display at Firestone, but did comment: "The club is behind me. I lower, then try and whip it out in front of me, but it's too late. It's not a good combo.

"It's tough - the only thing I can say all week is I was patient and unfortunately that's not enough.

"I went through something like this when I kind of tore my swing apart after basically the Masters in '97. It took me two years to get it back before I started playing well.

"It is what it is. I've got to be ready come Thursday, that's all that matters."

Asked if he was surprised just how far he had fallen he answered: "No, it doesn't surprise me at all actually. It's been a long year."

His 298 was 39 shots higher than the tournament record score he shot 10 years ago and he set a career low by making bogey or worse on 25 of the 72 holes.

"He's just not the regular Tiger we're used to seeing," said Anthony Kim. "He's obviously had a lot of stuff going on and he's dealing with that, and that's obviously more important than golf.

"I think golf is an easy thing to do once your personal life is straightened out. And I'm sure it's going to happen soon for him."

With the FedEx Cup play-offs fast approaching defending champion Woods is not even guaranteed to be part of it.

He is currently 119th in the standings and only the top 125 make it.

As for his performance statistics, he is 163rd in driving accuracy on the US Tour, 166th in greens in regulation and 129th in putts per round.

Press Association

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