The Ryder Cup is a unique event within golf. At the heart of a successful side is an unquantifiable chemistry. We look look at why Tiger Woods' record continues to disappoint
There is no doubt that by returning to the winner’s circle at the Tour Championship last week, Tiger Woods completed one of the most incredible comebacks in sport. From 1,199th in the world rankings to 13th in the space of just a few months, this was an astonishing achievement even for a man with Tiger’s sparkling CV. With a new outlook on the game resulting in a more relaxed, easy-going demeanour, many predicted him to right the one, bizarre career anomaly – the Tiger Woods Ryder Cup record. Heading into France, it didn’t make such pretty reading – 13 wins, 17 loses and 3 halves.
The new Tiger Woods had embraced the wave of young talent that emerged in his absence, forming friendships with the likes of Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau. The young guns, it seemed, also wouldn’t be intimidated by the presence of perhaps the greatest golfer of all time.
Well, as the 2018 Ryder Cup has unfolded, so a rather familiar pattern is emerging. Woods has found himself battling against Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, playing alongside Patrick Reed. Europe’s ‘Moliwood’ stars have twice out-played the Americans and Woods will head into the foursomes on day two with yet two more losses to his Ryder Cup record and even more pressure on his shoulders. That’s a total of 19 Ryder Cup matches lost. Yikes.
The question the Americans will be asking is, after becoming much more of a team man, why is Tiger failing to deliver yet again?
Of course, credit needs to be given to the Europeans. Molinari and Fleetwood were never going to be intimidated by Woods – in part because the former played alongside Woods in the final round of this year’s Open Championship. Of course, Molinari went on to claim the Claret Jug. The diminutive Italian also played against Woods in the final match of the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah – that match was halved.
When Jim Furyk moved Woods and Reed from 4th to 3rd in his line-up he presumably did that to avoid Molinari and Fleetwood again on day two. However, it seems that Thomas Bjorn second guessed his counterpart and history repeated.
Beyond the good play of the Europeans, you also have to look at the chemistry between the Woods and Reed. Sometimes players don’t fire because they simply don’t have the X Factor. The Woods/Reed pairing don’t seem to have that connection and this issue seems to be at the heart of Tiger Woods Ryder Cup record.
This has been the case for Tiger throughout his team matchplay career. Is it because he intimidates his partners or simply because he is the ultimate individual sportsman? Both may well be true. Either way, there is no denying those elements of character that make you a good team match player, Tiger Woods doesn’t have. Not even the new version of the great man.