Friday, August 26, 2011

Picking Tiger Woods: Was it the right thing?

   So captain Fred Couples picked Tiger Woods as one of his two wild-card choices to be on the U.S. Presidents Cup team in Australia this fall.

   I like it.

   It's not necessarily the popular thing, based on some immediate reaction, but Couples picked the guy who's been the best player on the planet for most of the last 12 to 15 years and who seems to want to be on the team, an interesting twist given Tiger's supposed lack of interest in team events through the years.

   The knee jerk reaction is to ask why Couples picked Woods -- currently 28th in points -- over No. 11 Jim Furyk and No. 12 Rickie Fowler, the first two non-qualifiers at this point given Woods lack of competition and recent poor form.

   Couples can still pick one of them. If the captain is expected to automatically adds Nos. 11 and 12 to the team, then why give him two picks?

    Furyk hasn't exactly set the world on fire this year and Fowler, of whom I'm a big fan, still hasn't won a tournament and hasn't threatened in many recently. Fowler was great at the end of the Ryder Cup last year and he'd be the other pick if I were making it.
   There are plenty of others who have a strong case, including recent PGA champion Keegan Bradley, who has won twice this year. Maybe Couples picks him over Fowler. Phil Mickelson publicly lobbied for Bradley this week, saying it would be okay to pick Tiger for the team but not before adding Bradley.

   Couples knew he would take a hit for picking Woods but he did it anyway. He has apparently convinced Tiger to add a fall series event to his schedule to help sharpen his game prior to heading to Australia and it's worth remembering that just four tournament starts ago, Woods had a share of the lead on the back nine at Augusta on Sunday.

   Granted, that was in April and recently Woods' game has looked as disheveled as ever. That's why Couples pushed for Tiger to add an event this fall, which sounds likely.

   Did Couples pick Woods because of the player he used to be?

   Sure he did. He didn't pick him because he got extra work on his sand game at the PGA Championship in Atlanta and is fresh because he got that weekend and the FedEx Cup playoffs off. He picked Tiger because he's Tiger. If you're picking a team and have the chance to have Tiger, it's tough to leave him off no matter how scattered his game looked in Atlanta.

   It's a gamble, no question, if it blows up on Couples like Lanny Wadkins' pick of Curtis Strange for the Ryder Cup team. That was the Ryder Cup, which is a far bigger deal than the Presidents Cup and, if nothing else, the Woods' pick will make the PGA Tour's Ryder Cup knockoff a bit more compelling.

   Obviously, there are fundamental issues Woods needs to work through in his swing but he also needs to play, now more than ever. Like him or not, Tiger needs some good vibes on the golf course. Playing alongside his buddy Steve Stricker, an almost certain pairing, will be perfect for Tiger.

  Couples' pick means a deserving player, probably a young one, gets left off. It happens almost every time one of these teams is picked.  He could have left Tiger off but he chose not to do that.

  It's strange to think that's not necessarily the popular pick. We'll find out if it was the right one.



BCB said...

Bad idea at this point, coming out so early with this pick. Why disincent all the more deserving players, like Bradley, Fowler and others by picking Tiger now, even if you pick him later? Besides that, captain's picks are supposed to be for picking "hot" players, which Tiger is clearly not right now.

Rich said...

It wasn't really the fact that Freddy picked Tiger, and not even doing it so long before he had to choose his last 2 players, that kind of rankles me. It's the fawning way he did it, saying Tiger is the best player, forever. Excuse me? He's not close to being the best player now (and the P.Cup is being played now, not 2 years ago when that statement had a ring of truth) and he's not likely to ever be the best player again due to his arthritic knee and general emotional malaise.

The time has come for PGA players and officials to stop excessive genuflecting toward Tiger Woods like lovesick schoolgirls. Get over it already. He never even seemed to appreciate it when it was somewhat justified.

If this were the Ryder Cup, which golf fans actually care about, I'm sure it would cause a larger negative reaction. But it will be good for TV ratings and Freddie might be taking the long view.

Anonymous said...

Junior likes it? What a shocker.

Mike said...

I've taught my children over the years that anywhere they see nonsensical decisions being made, look for the money. From a competitive standpoint, this decision is stupid. From a financial standpoint, it is great because of all the drooling there is over TW. Media folks want him in because of ratings which translate to money. Bottom line. Even Freddie has capitulated. If this were the Ryder Cup, no way Keegan wouldn't be in.

Anonymous said...

Freddy must be getting a cut of Presidents Cup retail sales because this pick makes no sense whatsoever. Even at his pinnacle Tiger was never a force in these team events. What happens if a Zach Johnson or Webb Simpson catches fire? What the hell is Freddy thinking?