US Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker admits he is still unsure whether Tiger Woods will able to be part of his backroom team for this year’s contest at Whistling Straits.
Woods has not played competitively since the PNC Championship last December and underwent another bout of back surgery at the end of 2020, before suffering multiple open fractures during a serious car crash in Los Angeles in February.
The 15-time major champion spent three weeks in hospital and required further surgery before returning to his Florida home in mid-March, with Stricker still hopeful of Woods being a vice-captain for Team USA this September.
“I’ve talked to him [Woods],” Stricker said. “I don’t know if we are there yet to commit to him being there. He’s still got a lot going on and his spirits are great, though, as of late.
“We were on a Zoom call with him just this last week and he seems like he’s in a better place. Like I said, though, he’s still got some ways to go. But yeah, I’d love to have him there. Who wouldn’t, right?
“The guys really respect him and he did a great job obviously as a captain [in the 2019 Presidents Cup], but he was an assistant captain of mine in 2017 and he was unbelievable.
“He would do anything for you and he’s totally, totally vested in the situation and the process and almost to the point of he’s on it early and so much it’s like, ‘Dude, we’ve still got months to go yet’. He’s really good at being an assistant and I’d love to have him be there if it’s at all possible.”
Woods was part of Jim Furyk’s American side that was beaten at Le Golf National in 2018, a week on from his Tour Championship victory, where he lost all four of his matches in Europe’s 17.5-10.5 success.
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The former world No 1 has a poor Ryder Cup record and only featured in one American victory during his eight appearances, although Stricker disagrees with a suggestion that Woods pursued individual success rather than team glory.
“I think the earlier perception was a bit unfair,” Stricker added. “Although he’s a difficult guy to pair with, I think. I can say that because I was his partner and we had a great partnership.
“But he’s the best player in the world, and his partner has to be…I don’t know what the word is, it’s just you have to be – you have to be okay with playing with the best player in the game and there’s some expectation put on as partner, and he doesn’t put that on the partner.
“He’s always been this way on the teams I’ve been around, very into the whole team and the process and yeah, I think it’s been unfair. As assistant captain, it’s almost like he’s taken it up a notch. He can worry about the whole team where when he’s a player, he’s just thinking about getting his own game ready so he can get those blinders on a little bit.
“But as an assistant captain, he is all-in with everybody and the players love it. They love being around him and he adds a tremendous amount when he is there.”
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