Tiger Woods could form part of the US Ryder Cup team – or at least, Zach Johnson isn’t ruling it out.
Ahead of the Sony Open in Hawaii, US captain Johnson said he wouldn’t discount selecting Woods to compete in the tournament if the 47-year-old didn’t qualify for the team automatically.
“I would only contemplate having him on the team if he felt – if he was putting up some numbers and some scores, No. 1, where he’s showing some sign of being competitive, “Johnson said at a media conference on Wednesday.
“And then No. 2, that discussion would be had with the other guys that are a part of that team, and specifically him. If there is anything I trust in Tiger Woods, is that he’s extremely invested in this team and the future Cups. Extremely invested. I can’t speak that enough,” added Johnson.
“And then I think you would do anything and everything for the betterment of the team. I assume he would say … I don’t like basing on assumptions … but I’m confident that he would say, ‘Yeah, I can play, or no, I can’t.’”
Last year, Johnson confirmed Woods would be part of the US Ryder Cup “in some capacity,” adding that Woods had made it a “priority.”
“Given who he is and what he’s all about, I can’t tell you right now: I don’t know if he will be here next year, but he will be a part of this team in some capacity,” Johnson said.
However, Woods’ health could complicate this, Johnson conceded.
“He’s gone through some things as of late that make it difficult, whether it’s travel or what-have-you,” said the US Ryder Cup captain.
Injury has hampered Woods’ recent career, his playing time decimated since he suffered serious leg injuries in a car accident in February 2021.
The 47-year-old withdrew from the Hero World Challenge in December citing his foot pain, and at various points had looked to be struggling with movement during the seventh edition of The Match that month.
“I think something that is realistic is playing the tour one day, never full time, ever again, but pick and choose, just like Mr. (Ben) Hogan did,” Woods told Golf Digest after his accident in 2021.
“Pick and choose a few events a year and you play around that. You practice around that, and you gear yourself up for that. And you play. I think that’s how I’m going to have to play it from now on.
“It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s my reality. And I understand it, and I accept it.”
A biennial competition which alternates between Europe and the US, the Ryder Cup is being played in Italy for the first time later this year – September 25 to October 1 – at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, which is 10 miles from the center of Rome.
Team US regained the Ryder Cup in 2021 following a historically dominant performance over Europe at Whistling Straits.