If it were up to Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods would be an easy decision as a pick for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
“Oh, absolutely,” Nicklaus said Thursday during a conference call with reporters. “I couldn’t imagine [Woods] not being on a Ryder Cup team, unless he does absolutely nothing in recovering from his game between now and then.”
Nicklaus took part in a call on behalf of the PGA of America because he is the course designer for next month’s PGA Championship at Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as the Ryder Cup course at Gleneagles in Scotland.
Nicklaus was asked about a variety of subjects, including Rory McIlroy’s win at the Open Championship and Woods’ status for the Ryder Cup. Woods, who has played just twice since returning from March 31 back surgery, expressed his desire to be on the team after his 69th-place finish on Sunday at the Open Championship.
U.S. captain Tom Watson also said he would like to pick Woods but suggested Woods needs to show some form in his two remaining starts — next week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship — before the FedEx Cup playoffs. Woods likely needs to average top-three finishes in those tournaments to qualify for the playoffs. If he does not make it, Woods would face a month off from PGA Tour golf before the Ryder Cup, which begins Sept. 27.
“If was a captain, I would be hard-pressed. … I don’t care what he does between now and then. If Tiger wants to play, I would certainly choose him,” Nicklaus said. “My guess is that Tom feels pretty much the same way. Tom would certainly like to have Tiger on his team, and I think anybody in their right mind, unless he just doesn’t want to play or doesn’t think he could play, would not choose him.”
Nicklaus, 74, was twice captain of the U.S. team, winning in 1983 and on the losing end in 1987 — the first time the U.S. lost in America. He also captained the U.S. Presidents Cup four times, with three victories. Woods played on all of those Presidents Cup teams.