- Tiger Woods could be confirmed as vice-captain by Jim Furyk next week
- The 14-time Major winner has not ruled out the possibility of playing in Paris
- Such a dual role would be unprecedented in the modern Ryder Cup era
Tiger Woods is so confident his back problems are now behind him he has asked American Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk if he can be both a player and a vice-captain at this year’s match in Paris in September.
Such a dual role would be unprecedented in the modern Ryder Cup era and is indicative of Woods’s gathering sense of excitement that he will be ready by then to compete again at the highest level.
Another illustration came when he was asked about his glamour draw alongside Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas for the first two rounds of the Genesis Open here at Riviera along Sunset Boulevard, beginning on Thursday.
Rejuvenated Tiger Woods has not ruled out the possibility of playing in the Ryder Cup
Woods couldn’t resist looking forward to the day when he takes them on with a title on the line. ‘Oh, I’d just love that, that’s something I pray will happen,’ said the 42-year-old.
Asked whether it would be difficult showing two near neighbours who have become firm friends the cold shoulder come the back nine of an event, Woods responded: ‘It wouldn’t be difficult at all, and I wouldn’t care what they think. Hey, it would be winning time. Once I get in contention I know I’ll be able to handle myself. It’s just getting there.’
The Ryder Cup line left a media centre filled with hardened hacks positively slack-jawed. Woods was presented with the scenario of a good rather than great summer that left him around 20th in the US points list.
Would he rather be a vice-captain or a captain’s pick? ‘What’s wrong with both?’ replied the 42 year old, smiling. ‘Yeah, I’d like to do both,’ he added, before confirming that he and Furyk have spoken about the possibility, although Woods stopped short of revealing the skipper’s response.
Woods left a media centre filled with hardened hacks positively slack-jawed on Tuesday
At least one of those roles – the non-playing one – could well be confirmed as early as next week in Florida, where Furyk is holding a press conference and the rumour is he will confirm Woods as a vice-captain.
As for the playing side, Woods acknowledged it is still early days in his comeback. ‘I’d like to eventually win tournaments again but right now I’m going through the process to get to that point,’ said Tiger, who finished an encouraging tied 23rd in his first PGA Tour event for 12 months in San Diego three weeks ago.
‘I’m starting to understand my body more with this back that’s different than it used to be. The more tournaments I play the better it will be, but I also don’t want to play too much. This is still all new to me and I just want to be real smart about it.’
This tournament was where Tiger made his PGA Tour debut as a 16-year-old amateur in 1992 and one, remarkably, he has never won. How he fares this time has certainly caught the public imagination. No place on earth has more A-list celebs than this one but Tiger can still hold his own, with advance ticket sales up 50 per cent while corporate sales have increased a mammoth 70 per cent on last year.