by Jeff Skinner
The 2014 golf season has been an ongoing soap opera for Tiger Woods. It finally came to a merciful end when he uncharacteristically removed himself from Ryder Cup consideration.
Woods will stay home and rehab his surgically repaired back until December. It was a decision he should have made long ago.
Woods’ return to play since his March surgery has been marked by missed cuts, withdrawals, sprayed golf shots and too much double talk.
Tiger has never been one to share his feelings with the media. All along he has said he had his doctor’s clearance to play and all he needed was “more reps” to find his game. Anyone who saw Woods play knew that those were fanciful words at best.
To Tiger’s credit he said he wanted to earn his way onto the Ryder Cup and relieve the pressure from Captain Tom Watson to have to select a player so far down the points list. This move takes that option away from Watson and he will certainly have his work cut out to field a solid and healthy team.
On the face of things this looks like Tiger is “taking the high road” as Watson said but I think there is so much more to this decision. Tiger rarely takes the high road he usually only travels on “Tiger’s Road.”
Tiger and his team have a long history of doing one thing and saying another. Many have said that Tiger “is doing the right thing” here in sitting out. I say it is absolutely the right thing to do but Woods isn’t doing this for the good of the team. He is doing it for the good of Tiger Woods. He does everything for himself and his image and he has been doing it that way from day one.
Tiger had said he was healthy enough to play but it was obvious to everyone except himself and his team of yes men that he wasn’t. Tiger may have been able to convince Watson to select him, after all the only thing bigger than his on course achievements is his unchecked ego. And a Tiger that says publicly he wants to be on the team may have been difficult for Watson to deny.
Tiger expresses disappointment on not playing this year but what he does is remove himself from a team that is a significant underdog going into the competition.
So his not playing is a win-win for Woods, especially if the U.S. team loses. If Woods isn’t on the team that gets whitewashed in Scotland he shares none of the blame. If the team wins it is a bonus and Woods looks like he took one for the team.
Also if Woods did get selected and plays poorly, as he usually does in team competition, he would be the focus of much criticism. This way he is relived of any responsibility.
It also spares Woods the embarrassment of not getting selected for the team by Watson. Even with Watson’s declaration that he wanted to pick Tiger there was still a very good chance that Captain Tom would leave him home. After all, Watson and Woods aren’t the friendliest two golfers in the world. If the PGA of America hadn’t gone outside the box a contemporary of Tiger would be sitting in Watson’s seat. And not selecting Woods would have not been an option.
So now Captain Watson can concentrate on selecting three players that are at the very least healthy and hopefully playing well.
On the surface this move by Tiger looks selfless but if we add Tiger’s past history into the equation it’s more selfish.
A team without the 2014 version of Tiger Woods is the right thing, whether Watson or Woods made that decision.
But we shouldn’t think that Woods did this for the good of the team. It’s for Tiger; it is always just for Tiger.