After Tiger took his infamous drive into a fire hydrant, there were a ton of questions surrounding the world's number one player. Would he get his game, health, and marriage together quickly enough to contend in this year's majors? Would the distraction of an enormous sex scandal and the impending end of his marriage derail his career long term? Would Cadillac replace the grill on his Escalade for free?
But for real golf fans one of the most immediate concerns regarding Tiger was the potential reality of a Ryder Cup without him. And let's face it, while Tiger might not go down as the greatest team player of all time, the event is a heck of a lot more interesting with him in the mix. Fortunately for everyone who's been looking forward to the showdown at Celtic Manor, it appears El Tigre will be there no matter what.
According to a report from the BBC, U.S. captain Corey Pavin has said that due to improvements in his recent form, he wants Tiger on his side.
"He's the number-one player in the world. There's something wrong with you if you don't want him on the team," said Pavin. "I want him to be playing well. He's finished in the top five in the last two major championships and he's put himself on the team right now – as it stands he's seventh on the list. I expect him to go up on that list and improve his position and he'll make the team no problem."
Though Tiger has been dominant throughout his career on the PGA Tour, his Ryder Cup record has been less than stellar. In five competitions he's amassed ten wins, thirteen losses and two halves. The 1999 team was the only one he was a part of that actually won. Tiger missed the '08 Ryder Cup at Valhalla due to knee surgery. The bottom line: Tiger is still the biggest draw in golf and having him in Wales will be a big boost for the event, even if he doesn't play well. Hank Haney and Tiger were dysfunctional from the startSince his much publicized split from Tiger Woods, Hank Haney certainly hasn't been shy about talking to the media, and the trend continues. In a recent interview, as reported by ESPN, Haney was quoted as saying his relationship with Tiger, "didn't get dysfunctional; it was always dysfunctional." Haney goes on to provide insights into their working relationship like the fact that Tiger would give him little indication of when and where they would work together, and that Tiger would often disregard his input, particularly around the '10 Masters.
"I got no acknowledgement at all, but that wasn't unusual. Then it got to the point where I didn't know what he was doing or thinking. Yet the whole time he was telling the media I was still his teacher and that I was going to continue to be his teacher and I was talking to him every night."
Haney goes on to say that he believes Tiger was surprised when he ended their six-year relationship but that he still considers the two to be friends.
The bottom line: Haney's career got a big boost from his association with Tiger and he's still getting mileage out of it. Contraction on the PGA Tour? Finchem says not yetIn the last couple of years the PGA Tour has faced new challenges when it comes to signing agreements with title sponsors and is currently looking for six new partners to provide tournament backing. Economic downturn aside, commissioner Tim Finchem doesn't currently foresee a loss of tournaments on the schedule for next year, according to a report in USA Today.
"We have to have sponsorship to put on events, so if it got to a point where sponsorship wasn't available, it's always a possibility. But candidly, we are on track with where we are in most years, good or bad economy, in terms of the amount of work we have to do either to renew sponsors or bring in new sponsors. I think the market is soft generally," he added. "But for our product, it continues to perform well, and we don't anticipate any need for contraction."
Finchem adds that a full season requires 47 tournaments in 44 weeks and to accomplish that the Tour needs players to compete in more events. He suggested that some tournaments with traditionally weak fields might be "designated," meaning that top players would be required to play in at least one of them.
The bottom line: Everybody's feeling the pinch and Finchem is no exception. If forcing top players to show up more often would help the Tour, might as well give it a shot.