Punch Shot: Should Tiger be a Ryder Cup pick?


Tiger Woods missed the cut at the 96th PGA Championship and will not finish among the nine automatic qualfiers for the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Captain Tom Watson has three wild-card picks to make on Sept. 2. Should he use one on Woods? The GolfChannel.com team weighs in from Valhalla Golf Club.


The 96th PGA Championship was always going to be a Hail Mary for Tiger Woods, an 11th-hour attempt to salvage a season that has been on life-support since he missed the 54-hole cut at the Farmers Insurance Open.

For Woods it was a scrambling attempt to play his way into the PGA Tour playoffs with an eye toward earning a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team in September. The result, however, was two more mediocre rounds, an assortment of new questions about his health and a very difficult decision for U.S. captain Tom Watson.

Whether Woods will be a captain’s pick is an esoteric debate for the coming weeks. Whether he should be a pick is a far easier choice. The former world No. 1 has done nothing to prove that he is either a) playing well, or b) healthy, which was Watson’s criteria early and often when asked if he’d make him a pick.

Woods is currently 69th on the Ryder Cup point list, and hasn’t finished better than 25th anywhere in the world this year. He has broken par just once since March and, most concerning of all, hobbled his way to another missed cut on Friday at Valhalla Golf Club.

None of that passes Capt. Tom’s litmus test.


Tiger Woods should absolutely be a captain’s pick – if we’re talking about the captain of his yacht and he’s considering an offseason ocean cruise.

But the Ryder Cup? No way. This is the same guy who just spent two days losing to senior tour players and club pros. The same guy who just last weekend walked off the course because of back pain. The same guy who is only four months removed from surgery and looks like he could use another four months on the couch before coming back.

Woods’ health clearly isn’t where it needs to be right now, especially for an event where 11 teammates – not to mention the rest of the country – are relying on him. And here’s the real kicker: Even if he is able to get his back pain-free in the next six weeks, his game is still pretty far from Ryder Cup form.

So, no, of course Tiger shouldn’t be named to the team when selections are made on Sept. 2.

You know what he could use instead? Maybe a nice relaxing few weeks on an ocean cruise.


A captain’s pick is meant to supplement the rest of the team. Maybe that’s a guy who has experience in team competition, or who catches fire at the right time, or who holes the most putts.

Four starts after back surgery, Tiger Woods offers … what, exactly?

Not leadership – Woods has enjoyed incredible success because of his singular focus, but he hasn’t always played well with others. Not good form – his missed cut at the PGA ended what (very) slim chance he had of extending his season. And certainly not good health – he rushed back for the PGA after another injury setback, and he labored around Valhalla like a marathoner on his 24th mile. At this point, not even a six-week layoff can fix all that ails Woods.

Sure, newbies like Ryan Moore, Brendon Todd and Chris Kirk might melt in the crucible of the Ryder Cup. They still offer something to the team that Woods can’t – hope.  


Tom Watson absolutely should not pick Tiger Woods for the U.S. Ryder Cup squad. Woods' current form has no redeeming Cup qualities and he would be both a distraction and a liability.

It’s sad, but I’ve seen enough the past month. Think about it: Woods likely wouldn’t be well enough to comfortably play 36 holes a day the first two days, no matter how much his health improves over the next six weeks. And Watson could not, under any circumstances, put Woods in foursomes. He’s driving it so erratically that you couldn’t saddle him with anyone, like a Matt Kuchar-type, who Woods paired with successfully last year at the Presidents Cup.

Woods has shown the past few years that he’s grown fonder of the cup events, but that still doesn’t mean his presence is a huge boost in the team room. Couple that with the state of his game and the decision is simple.

If he's ultimately picked it’ll only be because his name is Tiger Woods. It won’t be because he did anything to warrant it.


The only thing Tiger Woods’ presence will help this September at Gleneagles is TV ratings and interest in the Ryder Cup. Last time I checked, Tom Watson is the captain of the U.S. team, not a television executive.

So if I’m him, there’s no way you can pick an unhealthy 38-year-old coming off back surgery, who hasn’t been close to contending this year and has a 13-14-2 all-time Ryder Cup record, and somehow claim it’s for the good of the team.

The U.S. will already enter this event as big underdogs; if Watson puts Woods on the team it will send a message to the rest of his players that they aren’t really there to win. They might as well not even show up.