A beaten and battered United States Ryder Cup team has turned to the greatest golfer of a generation to give it a boost in order to turn their luck around in the prestigious matches.
Davis Love III, the captain of the 2016 Ryder Cup team, announced this week that Tiger Woods, winner of 14 major championships and the best player in golf since Jack Nicklaus, would be joining his team, along with Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk as vice-captains when matches head to Hazeltine next year. The United States has lost six of the last seven and eight of the last ten matches, most recently a 16.5-11.5 beat down in Scotland last year.
Tiger Woods, as a player, has not had the greatest success in the Ryder Cup matches. In fact, he was on only one winning team, and that was the stunning Sunday comeback win in Brookline back in 1999. Many golf commentators have suggested that Tiger would be a horrible choice as a captain, as his general selfishness and previous experience in the matches make it look like he could care less for the matches. There are plenty of reasons, however, as to why Tiger is the perfect fit for this role.
No one is more competitive than Tiger. This is the same man who used to make wagers with Michael Jordan, who never saw a bet he didn't like. Even if Tiger is not hitting a golf ball, he will do anything he possibly can to make sure he leaves Minnesota on the victorious end.
2) Lack Of Pressure
For the first time in his professional career, Tiger is asked to do something in which he, physically, can not change the outcome. He is also not the captain of the team, and will likely be tasked with working with three of four players. It is the least amount of pressure Tiger has ever faced in his career. This should give him the ability to be relaxed and do his job.
3) Change In Career Goals
Tiger said after the announcement that his goal is to make the team as a player, but after undergoing yet another surgery in the off season, the chances of that happened seem very small. Tiger will turn 40 next year, and his days as being the best player in the world are long gone. As he ages, his goals will undoubtedly change. He hasn't won a major championship in seven years, but if he helps change Team USA's fortunes in the Ryder Cup, the "Tiger Factor" could have a whole new level to it.
4) The Right Team
The announcement of the other vice-captains was also important, because it gave Tiger a lot of comfort and familiarity. He gets along very well with Love. He and Steve Stricker have been great friends for a long time. And it seems no one in golf has a bad thing to say about Jim Furyk. If Tiger were surrounded by other captains that he did not consider his peers, he probably would not have taken the job. Being on the sidelines with those he holds in high regard will make him feel more a part of a team, instead of feeling like the alpha dog.
5) Reinforces Love's Leadership
Let's face it - Big Cat is going to be the story of the Ryder Cup. He is the story in the golf world on days where he doesn't even play, and he will always be the story until he retires. That is the reality of post Tiger Woods golf. Any other captain may have considered leaving Tiger at home in order to focus more on himself and his team. By adding Tiger to the team, it reinforces the idea that Love is doing whatever he can do win, even if it means having to share the spotlight. The players will see this as an unselfish act, and Love will win a lot of supporters in the locker room for it.