By Steve Elling
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- In case you were wondering what it would take for Tiger Woods to be bypassed as a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team later this season, you have your answer.
Courtesy of U.S. captain Davis Love, the guy who makes the final call.
Love indicated Tuesday at the Honda Classic that unless Woods is dead, dismembered or has the small pox, he will be a member of the American side.
OK, so that's not the exact quote, but it's close. Love didn’t go quite as far as Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples, who last summer gave Woods a spot on the team even though he had not earned it with his play, Love gave every assurance that the striped one will play at Medinah.
In fact, when asked what scenario it would take for Woods to be left at home, Love gave a very narrow definition.
"If he was hurt or didn't play a full season," Love said. "But if he plays and he's healthy, again, I would have a hard time seeing him not making the team one way or another."
Woods has been added to the last two international cup teams as a captain's pick as he tries to patch together his game after his well-chronicled personal and professional issues. The last time Woods didn’t play on one of the annual cup teams was at the Ryder Cup in 2008, which the U.S. won without him in Louisville.
The U.S. Ryder points list is compiled by using PGA Tour earnings from the past two seasons, but is heavily tilted toward money list for 2012. Woods has played twice, with mixed results, and is buried at No. 32 at the moment, though this early in the year, one good week puts him back near the top of the chart.
When Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan won, they jumped into the top five. The top eight in points are automatic picks, while gets to use discretionary picks on the other four.
"Well, how many tournaments has he played?" he said of Woods' position. "I think like Phil, or like Hunter, all it takes is one week, you know. I think if he plays a full schedule, he's going to be right in there. I just keep saying if he's healthy, he's going to make the team.
"I think that's what Fred, what anybody, would think. If he's healthy, he's going to be on the team one way or another."
Sounds pretty close to a guarantee to us, no?
"II love the way he's played," Love said of Woods' recent uptick. "He had really one bad day since the [Frys.com Open last fall], he's had one bad round, really."
In a controversial move, Woods was added to the Presidents Cup team as a captain's selection last fall and went 2-3, though he scored what proved to be the clinching point. He hasn't won an official event on the PGA Tour in nearly 30 months.
Love is feeling pretty confident about his troops at the moment. American players have claimed the first nine PGA Tour-sanctioned events this year, the longest streak to open a year since Yanks won 12 in succession to start the 1991 season.
"It's been very exciting for me, and I know for the American golf fans, to see them playing well," Love said.
The complete list of U.S. Ryder Cup points through the Mayakoba and match play events last week: http://www.rydercup.com/2012/usa/te