A note to U.S. Ryder Cup players: Tiger Woods will be with you in spirit this weekend at the Ryder Cup in Valhalla, just not in person.
In a statement on his Web site, tigerwoods.com, Woods put an end to rumors that he would travel to Kentucky to talk to his U.S. teammates before the Ryder Cup begins Friday.
“I plan to watch the Ryder Cup this week, but I will not attend. U.S. captain Paul Azinger has my cell phone number, and he or any U.S. player can call me any time.” Woods said. “If I can offer any assistance, I’m happy to help.
“I doubt I can do much, since I can’t play practice rounds and am not privy to their team chemistry. I also don’t know who is playing well, who is injured, and have no feel for how the course is playing. But I’ll be happy to offer my opinion. I wish the American team well and hope they can bring back the Cup.”
Woods is still recovering from knee surgery after his U.S. Open victory in June. In his statement, Woods said that his rehabilitation is going well, but he does not know when he will return to competitive golf. He still has not swung a golf club and said if he did “you would see some of the worst shots you’ve ever seen.”
“Although I won’t be able to swing a club until early next year, my left knee is getting stronger and the doctors are pleased with my progress,” Woods said. “I just can’t rotate on my leg and I still don’t know what my first event will be in 2009.”
After his season-ending surgery, Woods’s agent Mark Steinberg said, “There will be debate whether he rushed back for the U.S. Open. But I don’t think there will be any debate that he rushes back from his next surgery. He won’t need to. Augusta is in April. And if things go according to plan, he’ll be able to play an event or two or three.”
On Tuesday, Woods didn’t say if he plans to return for the Masters in 2009, but he left no doubt that he intends to return to his pre-injury level of play. Talking about his recent trip to New York for the release of his new EA sports video game, Woods said he was disappointed he didn’t get to watch Roger Federer win his fifth U.S. Open, but that he still intends to win more grand-slam events than his racquet-swinging buddy.
“[Roger] now has 13 Grand Slam titles and is one way from the record held by Pete Sampras,” Woods said. “He’s closer than I am to the record; I have 14 titles and Jack Nicklaus has 18. But I might be playing competitively a little longer than him.”