SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Tiger Woods still thinks he can help the U.S. Ryder Cup team. It might be the only thing that could salvage yet another year without a major.
Woods matched the longest grand slam drought of his career when he failed to win the PGA Championship. He didn’t even finish seventh or better, which he needed to have any shot of playing his way onto the Ryder Cup squad. U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin is to announce his four captain’s picks Sept. 7.
“I think I’ve got a chance of maybe helping out in singles,” Woods said, drawing laughter. “No, I feel like my game is a lot better than it was obviously last week. And given a little bit more time it’s starting to head in the right direction now, which is good. Hopefully Corey will pick me on the team.”
Woods finished at 2-under 286 after a 73 Sunday, his worst round of the week.
The turmoil in Woods’ personal life has spilled over onto the golf course, and he arrived at Whistling Straits following the worst performance of his career. He shot a whopping 18-over 298 and beat only one player in the 80-man field at Firestone – and that’s a course where he’s won seven times.
But Woods got in plenty of practice before the tournament began – Sean Foley, swing coach for Sean O’Hair and Hunter Mahan, was often at his side – and is optimistic he was making progress. He made a brief appearance on the leaderboard Thursday, and his 71 that day was the first time in eight rounds he’d broken par.
He followed that with a 70 in the second round, the first time since the Memorial he’d broken par in consecutive rounds.
But he backed up Saturday and couldn’t maintain his quick start Sunday. After birdies on three of his first four holes, he “hit it awful.”
“I hit my irons really good today. I drove it terrible. Couldn’t quite get it,” Woods said. “I was able to hit my 3-wood well. I just couldn’t get a feel with the driver on how to do that. I was doing it on the range pretty good, but just couldn’t carry it through.”
Still, Woods saw progress in his game. He said he plans to meet with Foley again before deciding whether to work with him on a regular basis. Woods has been without a coach since he parted ways with Hank Haney in May. They had worked together for six years.
The only other coach the world’s No. 1 player employed as a professional was Butch Harmon, which lasted until 2003.
“I like some of the things he had to say about my golf swing and where I needed to go,” Woods said of Foley. “I like the direction because I was able to hit the shots that I used to be able to hit feel wise. The shape of shots, too, which was great. So when you get that kind of contact again it’s good.”
Woods has now gone 10 straight majors with a victory, matching the longest dry spell in his career. He is also winless at any tournament since that Thanksgiving Day car crash that led to tawdry revelations about his rampant infidelities.
Asked if it was too much to ask that he win a major in such a tumultuous year, Woods said no.
“I thought I could. Certainly. You’ve just got to play well at the right time,” he said. “I’ve just got to put it together for four days, and I never did that.”