Tiger Woods: Ryder Cup at Gleneagles 'will not miss US star'
Tiger Woods has done the American Ryder Cup team a big favour by withdrawing from September's match at Gleneagles.
Skipper Tom Watson has been spared a difficult decision, one that could easily have undermined the US effort to regain the trophy.
The uncertainty over whether Woods would receive a wildcard was already starting to have a corrosive effect on the captain's authority.
Watson's position on Woods had been shifting with each setback during the 14-time major champion's now aborted return from back surgery.
|Nine automatic qualifiers for 12-man US Ryder Cup team|
|Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson and Phil Mickelson.|
Form and fitness were the skipper's pre-requisites but, although Woods showed neither at any of his four comeback events, Watson still kept open the possibility of a pick.
This left the captain under pressure and the subject of Woods' fitness, or otherwise, dominated last Monday's news conference at Valhalla.
The media event was supposed to provide an opportunity to discuss the players who are in the US team, not one who might or might not be.
Watson appeared indecisive as he told reporters that he would, effectively, leave the decision up to Woods. It also suggested he was prepared to give special treatment to a special player.
"He is Tiger Woods and he brings a lot to the team," Watson said. "If he has the ability to play and he's healthy, I'd be a fool not to consider him."
The worst case scenario would have been for Woods to let the situation linger. Watson would have been left in a no-win situation heading towards the wildcard announcement.
On one hand he would have been weighing up whether to risk picking a player with serious fitness issues, while on the other he would question how he could leave out the greatest golfer of the modern era.
Woods has now ensured this dilemma has been removed and in good time. Watson can spend the upcoming PGA Tour play-offs assessing his three potential wildcards without Woods clouding the issue.
"It was a big decision for him to place a call to Tom and take himself out of consideration," Woods agent, Mark Steinberg, was quoted by ESPN.com.
"Often times people have questioned Tiger's commitment to the Ryder Cup, to team events. Nobody should question his integrity when it comes to playing for his country. I think this says a lot about his feelings toward the event and team competition."
Woods can concentrate on the pressing need to make a full recovery. He came back too soon when he returned to action in June following his 31 March back operation.
According to his website he is targeting his return for his own World Challenge tournament in December. This means foregoing lucrative exhibition events he was scheduled to play in Argentina and Asia.
Woods' bank balance will hardly miss those appearance cheques, but what the 38 year-old cannot afford is to rush another comeback and compromise his fitness.
It is a shame for the Ryder Cup that the game's biggest name will be absent but the compelling nature of these contests should ensure that he will not be missed.
US fans should not be too downhearted either. Woods has only been on one winning Ryder Cup team in seven appearances.
It is entirely sensible to take himself out of the firing line. He can sit back and watch the match from home.
And bear in mind that the last time he did that in 2008 America claimed their most recent victory.