HONOLULU – Depending on the future of Tiger Woods, one of his streaks is on the line this year.
Dating to 1999, Woods has led the points table for every Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team. Even when he played only six times in 2008 because of knee surgery and missed his first cup competition, he still had twice as many points as any other American.
Woods is out of action indefinitely as he copes with the fallout of his infidelity. Speculation on when he might return has ranged from the Florida swing to the Masters to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach to 2011.
Where does that leave the Ryder Cup?
“There isn’t much to think about right now,” U.S. captain Corey Pavin said this week at the Sony Open. “It’s a matter of when and if he comes back. As a captain, I’ll just watch what he does.”
Woods finished last year at No. 3 in the standings, which was meaningless. Under a new system installed by past captain Paul Azinger, the current year is all that matters. The only points last year were awarded at majors. In a Ryder Cup year, one point is awarded for every dollar earned on the PGA Tour, with double points at the majors.
The movement is so volatile that Woods could be out of the top eight who automatically qualify by the Florida swing. If he doesn’t play, he doesn’t earn points.
Then again, Pavin is allowed four captain’s picks. Does he leave out the world’s No. 1 player?
“A lot of it depends on his level of play,” Pavin said. “I’m going to treat Tiger like any other player. If he’s playing poorly, or he’s not playing at all or comes back late, I’d have to think about it.”
The Ryder Cup will be Oct. 1-3 in Wales, still an entire season away. Qualifying ends Aug. 15 after the PGA Championship, and Pavin doesn’t have to announce his four picks until Sept. 7 after the second FedEx Cup playoff event. Woods hasn’t even started his “indefinite break” because he usually doesn’t start his season until San Diego, anyway.
The Ryder Cup is a long way off.
Even so, it’s worth raising the possibility of another Ryder Cup without Woods because that’s when he faces some of his greatest scrutiny, on and off the course. And he has never given the British tabloids so much material, not to mention thousands of fans, some of whom felt slighted in years past when he played practice rounds early and was off the course before they walked through the gates.
His reception will be unlike that at any other Ryder Cup.
“I would be shocked if that didn’t happen,” Paul Goydos said. “There’s definitely going to be people who are going to use this situation to take advantage. … He is going to be heckled, without question.”
If that’s the case, it probably won’t be only at the Ryder Cup. When he does return to golf, Woods will have to cope with fans’ reaction whether he’s at Pebble Beach or St. Andrews, Muirfield Village or the TPC Boston.
Woods, however, has never been terribly excited about the Ryder Cup. He loves the matches and the camaraderie in the team room, just not the bells and whistles that make it the longest, most draining week in golf.
He showed his lack of affinity with the Ryder Cup while playing in Ireland in 2002, one week before the matches. Woods took that occasion to change the brand of his irons to Nike. Asked why he didn’t wait until after the season, Woods said, “Off the record? Because the majors are over.” Then he was asked for a comment on the record. “Because the majors are over,” he said with a laugh.
There is some precedence with Woods not playing the Ryder Cup.
He missed the last one because of season-ending knee surgery in June, and while no American thought the team was better off without a player of his caliber, there was a sense that it was a team of 12 for the first time, instead of a team of 11 and one global icon. That wasn’t Woods’ fault, it’s just that no other player commands so much attention.
So if he doesn’t make it to Wales, it’s not as if the U.S. team hasn’t been down this road before.
“He’s the best player, so we need him on the team,” British Open champion Stewart Cink said. “We played well without him, but I think the two are not related. It definitely will help our trepidation about going in there without Tiger Woods on the team.”
Cink didn’t want to look that far ahead, nor did he want to contemplate another Ryder Cup without Woods.
“I like to have him on the team,” he said. “I like to have him hanging around. I think he’s fun.”
Ryder Cup among the many question for Woods
HONOLULU – Depending on the future of Tiger Woods, one of his streaks is on the line this year.
Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo
Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.
With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.
Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.
The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.
In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.
There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.
It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.
It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.
“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.
In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.
Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”
Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.
“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”
Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.
Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.
If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.
For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.
Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.
Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.
While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.
When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?
Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.
After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.
The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.
That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.
The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.
While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.
Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.
Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.
“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”
The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?
Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'
John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.
That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.
Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.
Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid
Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.
Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.
Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.
World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.
Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.