Tiger Woods is training his focus on capturing his 15th major this week at the PGA Championship. But one other event is still on his mind, the Ryder Cup, and one other player, too: Bryson Dechambeau.
During his pre-tournament press conference at Bellerive, Tiger was asked about DeChambeau’s chances of making the 2018 U.S. Ryder Cup team. Since he’s a vice captain of this year’s squad, Woods’s opinion on the matter has a great deal of weight. So what does the 14-time major champ have to say?
“We want him on that team.”
Woods took a moment to expound on Bryson’s fit for the bi-annual team event. Above all, it’s Bryson’s intensity in competition that excites Tiger the most.
“Bryson is very analytical as we all know, but what most of the guys don’t know is how competitive he is. He is very fiery, very competitive, and that’s the type of person we want on the team. We want someone who is fiery, who will bleed red, white and blue. We want those type of players on the team.”
DeChambeau is far from your average Tour pro. He is “very analytical” as Woods said, but that doesn’t really do justice to how differently Bryson approaches the game. The rising star mathematically analyzes every aspect of the game, a habit that led him to use the same-length shafts on all of his irons. It also can be seen in his decision to use a pencil compass to help map out putts. (Golf’s governing bodies were not fans of that particular innovation… and banned it in response.)
But his desire and dedication to the game were in plain view a couple of weeks ago at the British Open. Cameras caught DeChambeau during an impassioned post-round range session, where he threw a fit while desperately trying to get his swing in shape.
The video caused a lot of laughs, but it also showed something much more important. That he cares. A lot.
That’s the exact quality Woods admires most in a golfer, and a quality that would serve him well in the ultra-competitive Ryder Cup.
DeChambeau currently sits just outside of the top 8 in the Ryder Cup rankings. The top 8 players automatically earn a spot on the team. But that’s not the only way to make it onto the squad, captained by Jim Furyk.
Furyk and his vice captains, Woods among them, get to pick four other golfers to be on the team. If we take Woods’s comments into account, it sounds like Bryson is a near lock even if he doesn’t auto-qualify.
“He’s playing great this year. He’s been very consistent. He’s still got a little bit of work to do to get on the team automatically, but, again, we’re definitely looking at him as a pick as well,” Woods said on Tuesday.
Interestingly, Woods himself currently sits well outside of the Top 8 in the Ryder Cup rankings. He will likely need a captain’s pick to play on the team. That begs the question, are Woods and the other captains looking at Tiger as a pick, too?
The Ryder Cup kicks off Friday, September 9, at Le Golf National in Paris, France. The automatic bids will be decided upon the completion of this week’s PGA. Captain’s picks will be made at different points during the FedEx Cup.