Woods, who played with Mark Calcavecchia, always practices at the crack of dawn ' and sometimes beats the sun to the course ' when playing regular tour events. But this week is highly regimented, and he was on schedule to tee off around 9:00 AM.
With captains only addressing the media Thursday, U.S. captain Curtis Strange defended his decision to let Woods play earlier than scheduled.
I told them to prepare like a major championship because this is a big deal. They played 36 holes the last two days. They prepared today like they would for a big tournament. Some went off early, some went off after that, some went off later, Strange said.
The chief's explanation didnt sit well with the foreign press, who drilled the captain on what they perceived as breaking ranks.
Hes not breaking ranks, he is doing what he had to do and what hes allowed to do, Strange said.
He consulted me about it and I said all along that Thursday is going to be your day, to prepare like you do for a major championship.
Many in the European media were furious over the fact that patrons, who paid 40 pounds for a one-day ticket, might not have gotten a chance to see the worlds No. 1 ranked player.
Im sorry if somebody didnt get to see Tiger play, but theyll get to see him play the next three days.
I want him to prepare the way he would for a major championship. I think thats best for he and Mark Calcavecchia, and I think thats best for the U.S. team.
European captain Sam Torrance understood the decision.
That has nothing to do with me. Tiger is the No. 1 player in the world. He does get a lot of hassle from the crowd, maybe he wanted to go out and have a nice, quiet round and prepare himself for tomorrow,' said Torrance.
Hes been out at the right times Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so he slipped out for a quick round this morning. Im sorry the fans didnt get to see him. But all the Europeans were out there, they could have seen them.
Woods will play alongside Paul Azinger against Denmarks Thomas Bjorn and Northern Irelands Darren Clarke in the Friday morning four-ball match. He is then likely to be paired with Calcavecchia for the afternoon foursomes.
Calcavecchia is sitting out the morning session, but is a career 4-0-0 in alternate shot in the Ryder Cup, as opposed to 0-4-0 in best-ball.
Full coverage of the 34th Ryder Cup Matches