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Tiger Woods is the favourite to be top American at the Ryder Cup but the bookies are offering a very generous 5/1 on that outcome.
Woods overall record of 13 wins and 14 losses with two halves might at first glance be a little off putting. But all is not as it seems.
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Why The Poor Record?
Woods has played in six Ryder Cups and the first two were pretty tough affairs. At Valderrama 1997, Tiger’s first Ryder Cup, he was paired with friend Mark O’Meara and after initially winning against Monty and Langer, went on to lose their next two and half their last match. A jaded Woods was then beaten in the singles by Constantino Rocca.
At Brookline, Ben Crenshaw could not figure out who to pair with Woods. Tom Lehman was tried and it failed, David Duval was tried and it failed miserably, then Woods teamed up with Steve Pate for a win and another loss. The big story was who could Woods be paired with next?
The problem got worse before it got better. In 2002 back at the Belfry Woods was tried with Azinger and Calcavecchia before eventually finding that he and Davis Love gelled well, winning two points.
Rather than continue that partnership in 2004 at Oakland Hills, Woods was put with Phil Mickelson. The top two players in the World would be unbeatable they thought. They ended up barely speaking after two opening day losses and it was too late by the time Woods and Love paired up again. USA lost 18.5 to 9.5.
Since then Woods has only played away matches, in 2006 at The K Club and in 2010 at Celtic Manor. In Ireland he was paired with Jim Furyk throughout. In Wales he was paired with Steve Stricker after they won four straight points at the 2009 Presidents Cup at Harding Park. Interestingly Woods has contributed six points in the last two Ryder Cups, four in pairs and two in singles. Overall he has only lost once in singles (to Rocca) with one half to Parnevik in 2002.
So Why Back Woods This Ryder Cup?
This year Woods is back on home soil having missed Valhalla due to injury. He is likely to have a steady partner in Steve Stricker throughout. Woods game has evolved since his last appearance also. Under the tutelage of Sean Foley, Woods hits it straighter, finds more greens in regulation and has three wins under his belt in 2012. He is also fully fit for the first time in a number of years.
Woods mental game is also now in a better place. He has a swing he can trust under pressure and he also seems to have mellowed as evidenced by his softer press conferences with the media and his bromance with Rory McIlroy.
Woods is also one of the few USA players to be almost guaranteed to play in every match. To bench him would be unthinkable for Love, he will likely play first or second in every session.
All in all, odds of 5/1 for an in form, fully fit Tiger, on home soil, with a steady partner seem generous as hell!
Tiger Woods At A Glance
Years Played: 1997-99-2002-04-06-10
Total Matches: 29
Career Ryder Cup Record (W-L-H): 13-14-2
Singles (W-L-H): 4-1-1
Foursomes (W-L-H): 4-7-1
Fourballs (W-L-H): 5-6-0
Total Points Won: 14
Total Points Won Point %: .48