June 21, 2024
Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods played nine practice holes with Fred Couples at Augusta on Tuesday. Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

The likelihood of Tiger Woods captaining the US in the next two Ryder Cups has increased after the 48‑year‑old confirmed talks over the role will conclude after the Masters.

It has always been assumed Woods will lead his country at Adare Manor in County Limerick in 2027. However, the PGA of America has also given the 15-times major winner the opportunity to take the captaincy at Bethpage next year. Woods had shut down discussion of the Ryder Cup until Tuesday at Augusta National, where he gave the clearest indication yet that he will soon be announced as the US captain.

“We’re still talking about it,” Woods said. He was pressed on whether his decision would be linked to how much competitive golf he is able to play. “It’s something that Seth [Waugh, the PGA of America’s chief executive] and I are going to sit back and talk about after this event. I said I’m going to be busy for a couple weeks, so let me focus on getting through this week and hopefully getting another jacket, and then we can sit back and talk about it next week.”

Tiger Woods as captain would con­siderably raise the profile of the Ryder Cup, with the US seeking to win back the trophy on the outskirts of New York. Had he not signed for the LIV tour, Phil Mickelson would have been an automatic choice for the post. Instead, signals point towards Woods taking charge of back‑to‑back teams. His ­connection to Adare is through a close ­friendship with the Irish resort’s owner, JP McManus. Woods’s status in the game has always been such that he can determine his own Ryder Cup situation.

Of more immediate concern to Woods is the potential claiming of a sixth Masters title. Woods has not played tournament golf since withdrawing from the Genesis Invitational in February due to illness. “If everything comes together, I think I can get one more,” Woods said of his prospects at Augusta. Woods’s competitive mindset was further emphasised by the brisk dismissal of any notion he would look to become an honorary starter here in the future.

Still, there are understandable concerns about Woods’s ­longevity. At the Hero World Challenge in November, he floated the idea of playing once a month in 2024. After his exit at the Genesis, Woods surprisingly failed to appear at the Players Championship in March. “I wasn’t ready to play,” he said.

“My body wasn’t ready. My game wasn’t ready. I thought that when I was at Hero, once a month would be a really nice rhythm. It hasn’t worked out that way but now we have major championships every month from here through July. So now the once a month hopefully kicks in.”

This represents good news for the organisers of the US PGA Cham­pionship, US Open and Open Championship. “I hurt every day,” said Woods, who had multiple surgeries even before a car accident which caused severe leg damage in 2021.

Tiger Woods, who last won the ­Masters in 2019, would create history by ­making the cut at Augusta for what would be a record 24th consecutive time. “I will say this: I think the last thing he’s thinking about is making the cut,” said Fred Couples, who played ­alongside Woods on the back nine on Tuesday. “I don’t know how the weather is supposed to be. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be perfect or not, but I don’t think it matters to him. He can play well in winds and rain and all that.

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