The Tiger Woods Ryder Cup Debate…Greatness Isn’t Temporary

Read the opposing argument from Sports Geek.

Corey Pavin, the captain of the American Ryder Cup team, is charged with selecting four captain’s picks that will combine with the eight automatic qualifiers to comprise the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup team. If Tiger Woods finishes outside the top 16 this weekend, he will not be one of the eight automatic qualifiers and that would leave Pavin with a decision to make. For me, though, the decision seems simple. If you are picking a team, don’t you want the best player in the sport on your team?

Last time I checked, Tiger Woods is still the #1 ranked golfer in the world. Although the golfing world is still abuzz over Tiger’s dismal performance in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last weekend, he’s still the guy who finished fourth at Augusta this year and he’s still the guy who finished fourth in the U.S. Open this year. While there is no doubt in my mind that his game has suffered this year as he has dealt with his imploding personal life, he remains, by any statistical measure, the best golfer in the world.

The spotlight of the sports world has always shone on Tiger due to his brilliance on the golf course. Some have argued that the spotlight, and the individual nature of golf, have combined to make Tiger’s 2010 season much more difficult on him than if a comparable athlete in a team sport was making the same sort of “comeback” from off-season transgressions.

Additionally, some wonder whether Tiger lacks the motivation he once had because his life off the course is so distracting at the moment. I tend to agree with these arguments, and that is why I think the Ryder Cup may be just what the doctor ordered for Woods.

At the Ryder Cup you’re playing not for yourself. You’re playing for your country and your team. While I do not doubt that the European media is licking its chops for another shot at a Tiger Woods press conference, and that Joslyn James will find a local entertainment establishment to ply her trade and play with Tiger’s mind, the key difference at the Ryder Cup is that Tiger will not be going back to an empty hotel room at night trying to dissect his game. There will be team events where he will feel a part of something, and that will help his golf game. His singular focus and standoffishness may have helped him when he was on top of the world, but you need friends in times of trouble. The festivities surrounding the Ryder Cup will all but force friendships upon him, even if they only last the weekend.

More importantly, at a normal PGA event, it’s in the best interest of all the other players to do nothing to help Tiger’s game or emotional state because a flaw in either area does nothing but pad their bottom line. At the Ryder Cup, national pride and the history of the game is on the line in a unique way. I cannot imagine the American team doing anything but supporting its best player.

It is said that golf is played between the ears as much as between the ropes, and Tiger’s uneven season lends credence to that statement. The supportive team environment, with the country cheering on he and his compatriots, will be the tonic Tiger needs to find his game and lead our team to victory.

Psychology aside, though, I think the decision for Pavin is an easy one. If you are picking a team, don’t you want the best player in the world on your team?

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