The Norman Transcript

National Sports

July 15, 2014

Watson eyeing Woods closely

HOYLAKE, England — U.S. captain Tom Watson had been looking forward to seeing Tiger Woods at the British Open to “tell him my feelings about him direct” about the Ryder Cup.

On second thought, there’s not much to say.

“Not a whole lot, probably,” Watson said Monday. “Again, it’s performance. I could ask Tiger, ‘How are you feeling? How are you feeling like you’re hitting the ball? Are you hitting it well?’ And that doesn’t mean anything, really. The performance means something. I’ll be watching Tiger and I want him on the team — I do. He’s a tough competitor and he’s great in the team room. Wouldn’t you want him on your team?”

The 14-time major champion was out for three months because of back surgery, and he wasn’t playing well in the months leading to the March 31 operation as his back pain became more evident. Woods is No. 72 in the Ryder Cup standings with only five weeks remaining to earn one of nine spots.

He is a long shot to make the team, though a victory at Royal Liverpool — or the PGA Championship — would do the trick.

Watson repeated the two factors that matter to him — the game and the health of Woods. And he was careful not to speculate what would happen if Woods failed to get into the FedEx Cup playoffs for the top 125. Woods is at No. 212 with three tournaments remaining.

“If he’s playing well and he’s healthy, I’ll pick him,” Watson said. “But then the caveat is if he doesn’t get into the FedEx Cup. What to do then? And that’s the question I can’t answer right now.”

Woods has the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone and the PGA Championship before the Ryder Cup qualifying period ends. Watson will make his three picks after the second FedEx Cup event.

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