MEDINAH, Ill. – Everyone knows it, but it’s worth repeating. After playing in 31 consecutive Ryder Cup sessions, Tiger Woods will miss one for the first time in his career. Sure he was 0-2 Friday paired with Steve Stricker, but he did make seven birdies in an afternoon fourball loss. So, should Davis Love III have benched Tiger Woods for Saturday morning foursomes? Our team at the Ryder Cup debates.
Simply, yes, Tiger Woods needs a rest.
Even though no one seemed to believe him, Love’s plan all along was to sit every player for at least one session. You’d rather sit Woods in foursomes – see his Friday morning match where he sprayed the ball all over Chicago – and have him fresh and hungry in the afternoon fourball matches playing his own ball. That will also make him more dangerous (and rested) Sunday in singles.
No longer is Woods, 36, the same young whippersnapper that he was 10 years ago, when he could play 54 holes a day if he felt like it. He has some hard years on his body. Doesn’t mean he couldn’t go 36 holes for the second consecutive day, just means he shouldn’t. (Note: DL3 will have to make a similar decision with Phil Mickelson Saturday afternoon. He and Keegan Bradley are hot, but Lefty, 42, needs some rest.)
All good things must come to an end, and Woods certainly had a decent run of consecutive matches. It’s just another situation where the captain is second-guessed no matter the decision. If he plays Woods and Woods plays poorly, it’s a travesty. If he doesn’t, he’s foolish for benching a guy who made seven birdies on his own ball.
So bench him. That way there are no excuses if Woods plays poorly in his remaining two matches. – Jay Coffin
With all due respect to Steve Stricker, Tiger Woods didn’t need a breather from Saturday morning’s foursome action – he needed a new partner.
On Friday at the Ryder Cup, America’s uber-pairing didn’t work, dropping a morning session to Ian Poulter and Justin Rose and the matinee to Nicolas Colsaerts and Lee Westwood. But it wasn’t for lack of trying, or solid play, by Woods.
Woods was 7 under in the afternoon match and 3 under through his last five to make a game of it. He simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up road-kill as the “Muscles from Brussels” rolled to a 10-under round.
Woods simply needed another partner. Rookie Brandt Snedeker would seem a likely choice given his steady putting on Day 1, and a little luck.
At the 2011 Presidents Cup Woods and Stricker were dismantled in the opening match by K.J. Choi and Adam Scott, 7 and 6, but captain Fred Couples didn’t bench his ace. Instead he reworked his lineup, sending Woods out with Dustin Johnson and America’s alpha male delivered a much-needed point.
We asked Woods last week what he considered the key to a good partnership and his answer was telling. “It’s just playing well,” he said. Simply put, Stricker is not playing well, but that doesn’t mean you bench Woods. – Rex Hoggard