TIGER TAKES THE BLAME FOR RYDER CUP LOSS: I HAVE FAILED A RYDER CUP
WATCH VIDEO COURTESY OF GOLFCHANNEL.COM
OCTOBER 1, 2012 (UK TELEGRAPH)
By Telegraph Sport 4:58PM BST 25 Sep 2012
[PHOTO -Up for the cup: Tiger Woods addresses the media in the countdown to the Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club Photo: GETTY IMAGES]
MEDINAH COUNTRY CLUB, ILLINOIS- Ryder Cup 2012: Tiger Woods hoping to improve on past performances as USA look to wrest trophy from Europe Tiger Woods has admitted he has been below par in his previous outings for the USA at the Ryder Cup and that he hopes to change that at this week's contest at Medinah Country Club.]
Europe have won four of the last five biennial contests, with Woods absent through injury from the home side's sole victory in that sequence at Valhalla in 2008.
The former world No 1's only win in six appearances came in the controversial Brookline series in 1999, while he has a losing overall record of played 29, won 13, lost 14 and halved two.
Asked if he was responsible for Europe's success in a time when he personally dominated the individual game, Woods said: "Well, certainly I am responsible for that, because I didn't earn the points that I was put out there for.
"I believe I was out there in five sessions each time and I didn't go 5-0 on our side. So I certainly am a part of that and that's part of being a team. I needed to go get my points for my team, and I didn't do that. Hopefully I can do that this week and hopefully the other guys can do the same and we can get this thing rolling."
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Woods is not alone in possessing a losing record however, with the experienced pair of Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk also struggling to translate individual success into team triumphs.
Mickelson, who is appearing in a US-record ninth Ryder Cup at Medinah, has won 14 points from 34 matches overall and amazingly just two wins from his last 14 fourball or foursome matches.
Furyk is making his eighth appearance this week but has won just 10 points of a possible 27 overall and four from his last 18 fourball or foursome clashes.
"In order to win Cups, you have to earn points and we certainly have not earned points," Woods added. "And on top of that, I think that Phil, Jim and myself have been put out there a lot during those years. So if we are not earning points, it's hard to win Ryder Cups that way."
Graeme McDowell, who secured the winning point at Celtic Manor two years ago, believes Woods is often the victim of "lesser" players raising their game and playing without pressure.
"I liken it to playing Premiership football," McDowell added. "Any lesser team that comes to play these guys, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal... they have a tendency to raise their game, because it's a huge game for an underdog to play a Tiger Woods.
"And they get up for it. They are not expected to win. When expectation levels drop, game tends to improve. A guy who plays Tiger Woods, or a player of that calibre, doesn't expect to win so he lets it all go and he plays out of his skin and gets the upset."
McDowell's team-mate and likely playing partner Rory McIlroy is of course now the world number one, a fact which makes him a "target" this week according to Furyk and the winning captain at Valhalla, Paul Azinger.
"It's part of being consistent," Woods added. "It's part of being ranked number one, it's part of winning major championships. You're always going to want to try and take out their best player, and that's just part of the deal. That's a fun challenge.
"I certainly have relished it over the years and I'm sure he's going to relish it this week."
Another aspect of this week that Woods seemingly relishes is having former basketball legend Michael Jordan around the US team, as the former Chicago Bulls star has done in several previous Ryder Cups.
But US captain Davis Love will not be encouraging a repeat of the time the duo first met.
Woods explained: "The first time I had ever been around him, he had fed me some beverages and the next day was a little bit more difficult than I would like it to be.
"But for him to want to be part of this is special for us. I guess for me, because I consider him like my big brother, gotten to know him so well over the years, I may take that for granted. But some of the other guys who don't really know Michael, I think it's a real treat for them."
[PHOTO- Ryder Cup 2012: 19th hole: the imposing brick facade of the Medinah Country Club Picture: GETTY IMAGES]
[PHOTO -Numbers game: Europe are the the defending champions. With a total of 28 points available, 14˝ points are required to win the Cup... Picture: GETTY IMAGES]
[PHOTO -The future's orange: the European team poses for an official photograph during the second preview day of The Picture: GETTY IMAGES]
[PHOTO -13 shades of grey: the US team strikes a pose Picture: ACTION IMAGES]
[PHOTO -Maybe this year: USA captain Davis Love III and Tiger Woods examine the Ryder Cup trophy Picture: EPA]
James Lawton: Tiger Woods' fall appears to have made him a team player at Ryder Cup Wednesday, 26 September 2012
[PHOTO -TIGER BECOMES A TEAM PLAYER 2012 Getty Images]
It really did sound like the first day of the rest of the Tiger's Ryder Cup life yesterday. The man who once said that he had a million reasons – all of them bearing the official stamp of the United States treasury – to prefer the hand-to-hand conflict of the tournament golf he had come to dominate so profoundly to the camaraderie of team sport, sounded rather more like the most earnest of cheerleaders.
Maybe it is because somewhere on the road from the 2002 contest at the Belfry to this week's collision at Medinah, Chicago, Tiger Woods has had a glimpse of a burning bush. Or perhaps it is more a vivid sense that his old days of immortality, the belief he was indeed the greatest golfer of all time, may have already gone up in smoke.
Certainly now that his extraordinary ascendency appears to be the new property of Rory McIlroy, the Tiger's appreciation of the challenge, and the rewards, of the Ryder Cup appears to have deepened quite dramatically.
Back at the Belfry, the Tiger was candid enough in the wake of the FedEx bonanza triumph he never seemed likely to reproduce last weekend. Yes, he sighed, it was true he had certain difficulties with the concept of a team sport. As a precocious young contender in southern California, and a college boy star at the prestigious Stanford University, the idea of team sport always left him not so much cold as puzzled.
Yesterday in Chicago, he made it sound like one of his fondest memories, a matter of varsity pride that might have come off the faded pages of a Scott Fitzgerald short story. At the Belfry, he likened it to the futility of canoe racing.
"I've found it difficult to understand how you can commit yourself to something you cannot dictate with your ability. How ever hard you paddle, it doesn't matter either way if there are stronger rowers in the other canoe. Of course I want to do the best I can in the Ryder Cup but it isn't the most comfortable format for me. I like to be in control of my own fate."
Maybe like many superior golfers before him, the warmth of a locker room, the comfort of an arm around your shoulder in a common cause, has developed a new level of appeal.
It is no doubt true that Colin Montgomerie's despairing pursuit of a major title – a new experience for the Tiger after stockpiling 14 – was regularly buttressed by superb Ryder Cup performances, a record that was crowned two years ago in Wales when he captained Europe to victory.
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Montgomerie is one of 24 players who stand above Woods in the all-time list of point-gatherers. At 25, one behind another Briton, Tony Jacklin, Woods can point only to a losing record of 13 wins, 14 losses and two halves. A winning percentage of .483 was inevitably raised again when he faced the world yesterday.
It came with a hard question about whether he – and fellow veterans Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk – accepted responsibility for Europe's growing edge in the contest. "Yes, I do take responsibility," he said. "I didn't get the points I was put out there for. I played five games but I didn't go 5 and 0."
However, he insists that old disconnection with the meaning of the Ryder Cup is a matter of history and certainly he can draw a graph of improved performance. In his last two Ryder Cups, he collected six of an available nine points and when he was ruled out of the American triumph at Valhalla in 2006, he did muster the passion to send captain Paul Azinger a message of quite blunt encouragement. "Kick their f****** asses," he texted.
Two years ago, there was a strong sense that Woods saw the Ryder Cup action as an important part of his rehabilitation after the year of deep-running scandal and a growing feeling that he may have separated himself permanently from the years of glory – and a relentless pursuit of Jack Nicklaus's record major title mark of 18 victories.
When the Welsh fans cheered his name, his demeanour warmed noticeably. It was as though he had been reminded of his status in another life.
Yesterday, he could hardly have been more enthusiastic about the challenges and the rewards of playing alongside his countrymen.
"It was fun to get together with the team last night," he said. "We [Woods, Mickelson and Furyk] can help out the guys who have not been here before. We have been put out a lot in the Ryder Cup and it's a great experience, so much of it is about what we did in college, and for us to represent the United States of America is something else. And then when players gather, say on Friday night, to see a late match and you're involved, well, you feel the heat. We're playing for our country, our team, and we have been to all those practice sessions to put things right. It is something that in our sport we don't normally experience."
American captain Davis Love III is emphatic that Woods has grown into a pivotal presence. When they joined together in Ryder Cup action – in 2002 – it might just have been the point where the Tiger found an impressive stride. They won back-to-back matches after Woods had been pointless in his first two games but that chemistry disappeared – along with 12 partners – before he benefited from the support of Steve Stricker two years ago.
The American captain says, "I think he realises he was trying too hard when he first came into the team. He couldn't do it all by himself, he had to be part of the team and win points with his partners, become part of the team rather than the team.
"Tiger and I do things differently but we are both passionate about winning and he's going to be a big part of it. Believe me, he cares. He will be one of our leaders."
One thing at least is true. He seems so much less inclined to throw away his paddle.
Tiger feat: Woods' Ryder roster
Ryder Cup appearances Six
Debut 1997, Valderrama, Spain [Europe won 14˝ - 13˝]
Matches played 29 [Won 13, Lost 14, Halved 2]
Points won 14 [4˝ in singles, 4˝ in foursomes and five in fourballs)
* Woods' struggles to take his individual talent into the tournament were evident from his first appearance, at Valderrama in 1997, where he lost three of his five matches. His worst Cup performance came at Oakland Hills in 2004, where he lost four of his five matches – two each with Phil Mickelson and Davis Love lll, as Europe comfortably retained their title.
Rough for GOLF NO. 1 Rory McIroy at Ryder Cup without girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki By Laura Butler Thursday, 27 September 2012
[PHOTO- Rory McIlroy of Europe poses for a portrait at the Ryder Cup host hotel prior to the start of the 39th Ryder Cup Gala on September 26, 2012 in Lombard, Illinois. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird)]
Golf's world number one Rory McIlroy will compete in the 39th Ryder Cup without the support of girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki (photo at right, below).
As the WAGs of the golfing world come out to cheer on their men in the famous sporting event in Chicago over the coming days, 23-year-old McIlroy will take to the course without his Danish partner watching on.
Tennis player Wozniacki is playing the Toray Pan Pacific Open tournament in Tokyo this weekend and will be a notable absentee as the high profile contest unfolds.
Meanwhile, fellow Northern Ireland player Graeme McDowell -- and vice captains Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley -- have been joined by their partners: US interior designer Kristin Stape, newlywed Alison Clarke and Allison McGinley.
Other partners including Diane Donald, Kate Rose, Laurae Westwood, Pernilla Bjorn, Katie Poulter and Sanna Hanson will wear the European colours for the weekend.
Spain's Sergio Garcia will compete at the three-day event unaccompanied as will European captain and bachelor Jose Maria Olazabal.
The women of both the US and European teams relaxed at their hotel while the players enjoyed a practice round yesterday, ahead of this afternoon's competition opener.
A number of Hollywood celebrities have also been showing off their skills on the greens of the Medinah Country Golf Club this week.
Olympian Michael Phelps, singer Justin Timberlake and 'Lost in Translation' actor Bill Murray took part in the 2012 Ryder Cup Captains and Celebrity Scramble.
Although she did not play, Timberlake's fiance, 'Total Recall' actress Jessica Biel, watched on from the crowd.
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