Tiger Woods did Tom Watson a massive favor when he removed himself from Ryder Cup consideration due to health concerns. Watson spent much of the past few weeks fielding questions about Woods' back and inconsistent play, while keeping the superstar in the mix as a polarizing option.
It turned out Woods' Ryder Cup status was a decision Watson never had to make. Although Watson's disappointed that Woods won't be joining his team, he said he's appreciative of the fact that Woods took the "high road," giving an honest assessment of where he is health-wise.
“My primary wish is for Tiger to be healthy and competitive, and I hope that he'll return to the game very soon,” Watson said in a statement following the news. “Of course, I'm disappointed that Tiger Woods has asked not to be considered for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, and that his health is not where he would like it to be. However, I think we can all agree that we need Tiger Wods in this great sport, and he has taken the high road by informing me early on in the selection process.”
For months, Watson had been peppered with questions about Woods' chances of being one of the three captain's picks, and each time, Watson delicately responded that if healthy and playing well, Woods would be in. But as any recent observer would tell you, Woods hasn't been healthy and hasn't been playing well, either.
Based on his back surgery in late March and his recent play, Woods figured to be on the outside looking in, but Watson was clearly caught in an uncomfortable position, having to decide whether to omit the 14-time major champ. With Woods' announcement on Wednesday -- “I've been told by my doctors and trainer that my back muscles need to be rehabilitated and healed” – Watson's picks just got a lot less convoluted.
That doesn't mean Watson wasn't disappointed with the news. He'll make his final selections on Sept. 2.
Even with a beleaguered Woods, the US team would've been heavy underdogs heading to Gleneagles, but if there's any silver lining, it's that the last time the US won (2008), was the last Ryder Cup that Tiger missed. Take that for what it's worth.