We all knew Tiger Wood’s injury will keep him out of the Ryder Cup. Now, we know he won’t be showing up to support the United States team. Thank God.
As Slate Magazine taught us, golfers perform worse when Tiger is in the field.
If you don’t get what I’m saying, it’s simply that you can’t overstate the impact of Tiger’s presence in a tournament. This year, he won the first four events he played. In only six events he won $5,775,000. The second-best golfer in the world, Phil Mickelson, played 14 events thus far and has won a paltry $3,959,500.
Players are under a lot of pressure when Tiger is around, even if they’re not competing with him. Look at past Ryder Cup performances. Woods has played in five of them. The United States has won once in that span. Tiger’s record is an unimpressive 10-13-2, but these competitions haven’t been close for the most part. The other Americans aren’t performing.
Is that because Tiger is in the field? That’s my theory. (Full disclosure: in the back of my mind, I know someone else has proposed this theory. I’d give credit, but I’m not sure to whom it belongs. Plus, that’s not my point. That’s just the theory that makes my point.)
Tiger’s presence puts pressure on his teammates in a different way during the Ryder Cup. His inclusion on their team automatically makes them the favorites, and they have to try to live up to expectations. Not only that, but I’d imagine they want to impress Tiger, or at least prove they can pull their weight. It’s the pressure to pull their own weight that has hurt the team in the past.
If Tiger was there, they’d still be feeling the pressure. His presence matters, even when he’s not playing. If he served as vice-captain, they’d still be trying to prove something.
Don’t believe me? I think Tiger does. Read that BBC story’s only quote.
“The guys will have plenty on their minds,” he told his website. “I wish them well and I’ll be cheering loudly.”
To be clear, the story frames it in a different context. I checked it out on Tiger’s official site — did you know you have to register for the fan club to read the blog? Lame. — and indeed, Tiger does say that he wants the event to be about the competitors right before making that statement. But when he says, “[t]he guys will have plenty on their minds,” I don’t think he’s saying that answering questions about his vice-captainship would bother them. He’s saying that his presence would affect them.
At least, that’s how I choose to read it. And why not? We all know they play worse when he’s in the field.