Tiger Woods will be a Ryder Cup pick -- if he plays well, says Tom Watson

Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, John Daly and Fred Couples
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Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, John Daly and Fred Couples at the 1996 Skins Game at Rancho La Quinta Country Club in La Quinta, Calif.

So does American captain Tom Watson want Tiger Woods on his Ryder Cup team?

The answer is yes, of course, with a caveat: as long as he’s playing well.

Woods’ status for the Ryder Cup has been a hot topic since his injury-shortened season means it’s unlikely that he’ll qualify for the team on points. In an interview in the July issue of Golf Magazine, Tom Watson called a healthy Woods an “automatic” captain’s pick.

I’ve said it before that he’s an automatic pick. You can’t have a player of that caliber not on the team. But that has to be weighed next to what his health is. I hope he can get back in the swing, because he wasn’t playing his best even before the surgery. But if he’s not physically right, Tiger will be the first one to tell me.

However, following Woods’ missed cut at the Quicken Loans National, Watson was more equivocal about whether he’d use a captain’s pick on Woods.

“I'm delighted to see Tiger back,” Watson said at the Greenbrier, where he’s playing this week. “I hope he's healthy and I hope he's not in pain. As I said, I want him on the Ryder Cup team if he's healthy and playing well.”

Woods was a captain’s pick on the 2010 Ryder Cup team in Wales and the 2011 Presidents Cup team. In both cases he had missed significant time for injuries that prevented him from qualifying for the team on points. He was the top qualifier for the 2012 Ryder Cup team.

Compared to his dominance on the PGA Tour, Woods’ Ryder Cup record is uneven. His overall Ryder Cup record is 13 wins, 17 losses and 3 ties. However, his singles record is an excellent 4-1-2. Woods has played on only one winning Ryder Cup team in his career – in 1999. He missed Team USA’s victorious 2008 romp because of injuries.

And Watson and Woods have had a chilly relationship at times, despite their shared Stanford backgrounds and deep competitive drives. Following Woods’ sex scandals, Watson said that Woods should show “some humility” when he returned to the game. He was also critical of Woods’ cursing and club throwing on the course. In his Golf Magazine interview, Watson said his past comments on Woods were “under the bridge.”

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