By Andrew Both
ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – Tiger Woods used to be an intimidating presence at the Ryder Cup – to his own team mates, captain Jim Furyk said on Wednesday.
The aura surrounding the 14-times major champion in his prime affected his playing partners, said Furyk, who believes times have changed and that Woods can only be a positive force on the team at next month’s event in Paris.
“It was hard to partner Tiger with guys 15-20 years ago,” Furyk said on the eve of the PGA Championship at Bellerive.
“To live in his shoes for a day was a rude awakening.”
Not that Woods tried to make things difficult for his partners. It was just a reality that his status as one of the greatest golfers ensured a hoopla of distractions wherever he went.
This may help explain why Woods’ has a starkly different Ryder Cup record in the three formats used in the competition.
He has, for a player of his ability, an appalling record in foursomes, a true team format where two players take turns hitting alternate shots.
He has a 4-8-1 (win, loss, halve) record in the format, and is barely any better in four-ball (5-8-0), in which two players play their own ball, and take the best score on each hole.
In singles, however, where he can be the lone wolf, Woods is 4-1-2, hardly a co-incidence one would think.
Now a more mellow 42-year-old, he is viewed almost as a father-figure by the young generation of Americans such as Jordan Spieth.
Woods will be in Paris one way or another. He is an assistant captain, and will most likely also be a player on the 12-man team at Le National from Sept. 28-30.
He is 20th in the American standings, way outside the top eight who will qualify automatically this Sunday, but a near certainty to get one of Furyk’s four captain’s picks.
Furyk played a fairly straight bat about whether he would select Woods, but perhaps exposed his hand when he said: “It’s fun to see him (Woods) put himself in the mix and being 20th on the points (despite having played) few events is a pretty good spot.”
Woods has partnered a variety of players over the years, including Furyk four times at the 2006 Ryder Cup in Ireland. They went 2-2.
Various captains decided that it was best to pair Woods with experienced players.
He played exclusively with Steve Stricker in 2010 and 2012, and also played multiple matches with Davis Love, Mark O’Meara and Steve Pate.
(Reporting by Andrew Both, editing by Pritha Sarkar)