Tale of a Tiger who can't come to grips with his game

Mon, Oct 1, 2012, 01:00

TIGER WOODS:The 14-time Major winner seems to hit a brick wall when it comes to producing the goods in foursomes or fourballs, writes PHILIP REID

HOW DO you explain what happens to Tiger Woods once he stands on the tee – in foursomes or fourballs – in a Ryder Cup? His drives become wilder (he hit three different spectators in three days up to Saturday’s fourballs!); his aura is diminished. He has a haunted look.

Even on a team that looked to be heading for victory, he became a beaten docket; transformed into the quiet boy in the corner while everyone else was high-fiving, and yahooing. It’s incomprehensible.

Nobody can doubt his willingness tocontribute to the cause. This was evident in yesterday’s singles. As Bubba Watson drove wildly into the galleries down the right – a la Woods, admittedly – who walked down the fairway,to see how he had fared? Woods.

The 14-time Major winner then trooped back up to the tee box, meeting Jack Nicklaus on the tee, and hung on to watch Webb Simpson tee off before going off to make his own preparations to be the last man out for the USA.

From first to last, a different kind of transformation. So often the player entrusted in leading the Americans from the front, he had been changed into the anchor role.

How did it come to this?

Medinah is a course tailor-made for Eldrick. It was here in 1999 that he won the US PGA and he repeated the feat on its return inn 2006. Course and distance winner. And, yet, in this 39th edition of the Ryder Cup, Woods’s dreadful record was compounded by losing all three of his matches on Friday and Saturday – one foursomes, two fourballs – and being given a rest session for the first time since making his Ryder Cup debut in 1997.

Woods benched. Now, that’s something that no other captain dared do. Kudos to Davis Love III. Even Woods admitted that he deserved it, although the lie-in on Saturday – permission granted by Love for the player not to get to the course too early in the morning chill – didn’t appear to have worked when the player air-mailed the third green and hit a drive on the fourth that needed a GPS system to find.

In the end, though, Woods showed his mettle – claiming five birdies on the back nine – in what turned out to be a futile chase, with Steve Stricker, in pursuit of Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia.

But it was another loss, a third straight defeat and brought his Ryder Cup record to 13(wins)-17 (losses)-2 (halved). “ Feeling good about my game but just unfortunately haven’t got a point,” said Woods on Saturday. Still in the negative. But still trying.

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