Fourteen-time major winner Tiger Woods participated in seven Ryder Cups as a player. He won it for only the second time on Sunday as one of Davis Love III’s five vice captains.
Love’s “tactician” who spent months studying statistical analytics and contemplating player pairings, Woods kept as low of a profile through Ryder Cup week as a superstar can.
After Sunday’s victory, he spoke at length about the experience.
“To be on a different side of it has meant so much to me,” Woods said. “As a player, all you have to do is get ready for the golf course. To get to know how hard a job it is to do this, it’s tough. I learned a lot, and I became really close to a lot of these guys. To get to know these 12 guys and these vice captains and the captain on a deeper level has meant so much to me.
“The relationships we’ve forged here this week and actually before this week, these are bonds that will last a lifetime. It has been just an honor to be part of it.”
He twice pretended not to hear a question that asked if this experience makes him want to be U.S. captain someday.
“Seeing what our captain went through, that’s hard,” he said. “Yeah, I would love to do it. I would be honored to do it in the future, if asked.”
Woods has not played golf publicly in more than a year because of injury but is scheduled to make his return at a PGA Tour event in Napa, Calif., two weeks from now.
Tough as a Rose
Europe’s Justin Rose played two PGA Championships at Hazeltine National Golf Club but didn’t completely recognize the course he played all week. The course was rerouted for the Ryder Cup, and he called Sunday’s setup — with little rough and easy pin placements so it’d yield eagles, birdies and home-crowd excitement — “incredibly weak.”
He termed Sunday’s pin placements “very much a pro-am feel” and said each was placed “as far as possible” from water on the seven holes where it comes into play. Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia combined for 19 birdies in their halved match.
“I don’t quite understand that, to be honest with you,” Rose said. “We have 12 world-class players here, and we want to showcase our skills. We want to be tested.”
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson volunteered to be a vice captain and juice boy when he wasn’t selected to play for the U.S. team. He was part of a winning team Sunday, six years after he played his first Ryder Cup. That’s the last time his father watched him play on TV; his dad died nine days later.
“The two greatest things I’ve ever wanted to accomplish in golf was be a Hall of Famer and be a Ryder Cup captain,” Watson said. “That Ryder Cup captain is another form of Hall of Fame. I told the guys [Saturday night] this is the greatest thing I have ever done in golf.”
The PGA of America on Sunday morning issued a news release calling for civility from all Ryder Cup spectators. It didn’t stop all the verbal abuse, but maybe it brought about a better class of heckler.
As Europe’s Rory McIlroy walked to the 11th tee, somebody shouted at him, “No taxation without representation!”
• The whole U.S. Ryder Cup task-force thing started on 2014’s final day when Mickelson used a Sunday night news conference to make clear his displeasure with captain Tom Watson. Some wise guy asked Mickelson what he thought of Love’s leadership with Sunday’s first question. J.B. Holmes, Brandt Snedeker and Zach Johnson all turned their chairs to face Mickelson and leaned back as if to listen. When he gave a clichéd answer, his teammates applauded in unison.
• Another two-time Masters winner, Ben Crenshaw, was with the U.S. team all week, and the 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup captain celebrated at the 18th green with team members Sunday. “Teams change, but the chemistry doesn’t change that much,” he said. “This team was a complete team. I could tell the bond was there. You could feel it. It carried them through.”
• Europe’s Thomas Pieters went 4-1 in his first Ryder Cup, 3-0 with Rory McIlroy, and beat Holmes in Sunday’s singles. “I’ve got a partner beside me for the next 20 years,” McIlroy said. “I’m not letting anyone else have him.”
• Mickelson on the changes sprung from the Ryder Cup task force with Paris the next site in 2018: “We need to build on this, otherwise it’s all for naught.”