People have always wondered about Tiger Woods’ motivation when it came to team golf, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
Yes, of course, he has enjoyed some magical moments as part of the United States team, with his elaborate club twirl coming to mind following an awesome 4-iron in the 2009 Presidents Cup. But his overall record in the Ryder Cup is pretty diabolical for his high standards, while his body language hasn’t always been positive at these team events.
Woods has a record of 13 wins, 21 defeats and three halves in the Ryder Cup. In foursomes he has won four matches, lost nine and halved one. In fourballs it’s five wins and 10 defeats. In singles his record is slightly better, as he has a winning record: four wins, two defeats and two halved matches.
But it’s not only his record, his demeanour in the last two editions of the Ryder Cup was one of a guy who didn’t actually want to be there.
At Medinah in 2012 he missed a short putt to halve his match with Francesco Molinari. It’s not something that happens often, as Woods is probably one of the best clutch putters the world has ever seen.
In 2018 at Le Golf National, Woods lost all four of his matches less than a week after winning the Tour Championship. That year he also came close in the PGA and was in the running at the Open, but as he landed in Paris, the smiles of the previous week went missing somewhere over the Atlantic.
He was visibly tired following his efforts the previous week, but we didn’t anticipate a sulk fest that fortunately ended when he lost to Jon Rahm in the singles on Sunday.
It really seemed like Tiger doesn’t play well with others, and that events like the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup are just a bit of nuisance. It looked like he just wanted to go back to doing his own thing.
That’s why it was rather strange, for me at least, when the great man decided to take up the Presidents Cup captaincy and then pick himself as a wild-card pick.
But we saw a different Tiger Woods at the Presidents Cup. We saw Tiger Woods the leader. Tiger Woods the teammate. Tiger Woods the peerless golfer.
This challenge really revved him up, with the hugs and the fist bumps coming liberally over the weekend. He then led the charge when his team was down going into the singles, and led the way with a crushing victory over Mexico’s Abraham Ancer, who had a stellar week before running into a red-hot (and rested) Woods.
By the time the Americans secured their winning point, Woods celebrated like he did when he won the Masters – his 15th Major – earlier this year. And people noticed …
‘Never seen Tiger Woods as happy as he is leading the US to the Presidents Cup, on and off the course, as the captain AND the best player. Tiger has always been at his greatest as a solo act. Now he can’t stop smiling and saying “We did it”,’ American broadcaster Skip Bayless tweeted.
This must be fantastic news for US Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker ahead of next year’s event at Whistling Straits.
The Americans need a committed Woods to be that spark to wrestle the trophy away from the Europeans.
He still has the game, and now he has the right attitude for team golf.