Tom Watson has hinted that he may be forced to leave Tiger Woods out of his 12-man US Ryder Cup team for this autumn's continental match-up at Gleneagles, unless the 38 year old plays himself into the FedEx Cup playoffs.
The comments were made following Woods' 69th-place finish at last week's Open - his worst finish in a Major in which he has played all four rounds.
However, Woods has, typically, suggested he would pick himself if he were Watson - making the next two months on the PGA Tour extremely important for US contingents.
What to do?
Following a round of 68 from Watson at Hoylake on Sunday that saw 64 year old finish seven strokes ahead of Woods, he told reporters: "If he's playing well and in good health, I'll pick him. But the caveat to that is if he doesn't make the FedEx Cup… what do I do then?
"He needed to get in the mix to get some points to get some money to get in the FedEx Cup. That's what I was hoping he was doing this week."
His concern is understandable. Woods currently ranks in 212th in the playoff standings, 112 spots outside the top 100 who qualify for the opening end-of-season tournament before the field is eventually whittled down to just the top 30 for the Tour Championship.
If the 14-time Major winner were to fail to qualify for the FedEx Cup events that take place in August and September, he would have endured a prolonged period of uncompetitive golf right before the Ryder Cup is set to get underway on September 25.
His appearance at Royal Liverpool will have done little to ease the concerns of Watson, a man Woods has seldom got in with in the past, and the Floridian's modest Ryder Cup record will mean this year's US captain will have a big decision to make when he announces his wildcards for Scotland as America look to avenge the two, single-point defeats they suffered in 2010 and 2012.
Unsurprisingly, Woods insisted he should be one of Watson's three wildcards when he announces them in the autumn: "That's my position, my take on it. He's the captain, obviously, it's his decision.
"He's going to field the best 12 players that he thinks will win the Cup back. And I hope I'm on that team," he said.
Modest Ryder Cup record
If he were to be at Gleneagles late September, it would be his seventh appearance in the contest with the Europeans - but given his incredible individual achievements over the past 17 years, his record in the Ryder Cup leaves a lot to be desired, merely adding to Watson's worries.
His overall record stands at W13 L14 H2. However, Woods alluded to 2010 when he backed up Corey Pavin's decision to include him at Celtic Manor by winning three and losing one of his four matches. That year, he relied on another captain's pick following his four-month sabbatical from the game after the revelations about his private life meant a four-month layoff from the American circuit.
"That's what you want as a pick - you want someone who can contribute to the team, whether it's in support or it's in the play," Woods added.
"I did it then, and hopefully I can actually earn my way on this year."
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