PGA Championship

Stricker to be Watson's deputy

2014-08-06 21:41
Steve Stricker (Gallo)

Louisville - US Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson said Wednesday he will wait to see how Tiger Woods plays over the next few weeks before deciding on whether he selects him.

But the 64-year-old legend, eight times a major winner, saw Woods' playing in this week's PGA Championship after suffering back spasms Sunday as a positive sign for his chances to be at Gleneagles, Scotland, next month.

"I am encouraged," Watson said. "He really wants to make the team in the worst way. These players really want to make the team and bring that Cup back."

The Americans will be seeking to avenge a traumatic loss at Medinah in 2012 in which Europe staged a record last-round rally to retain the trophy.

"After what happened at Medinah, I'd be the same way," Watson said. "I'd want to be getting on the team and do what you have to do to get that Cup back."

Watson also named the experienced Steve Stricker as a vice captain, giving him a 47-year-old assistant who could potentially play should the need arise.

"You'd better be playing well," Watson joked to Stricker before adding. "Hope we don't have to make that decision."

Woods, who withdrew from the final round of a World Golf Championships event Sunday at Akron with back spasms, underwent two days of treatment and examination in Florida before arriving Wednesday afternoon at Valhalla for the PGA Championship.

Woods, who underwent back surgery on March 31 and has competed in only three events since, played a practice round over the same layout where he won the 2000 PGA Championship, the third triumph in the "Tiger Slam" of four titles in a row.

Sunday marks the end of US qualifying for the Ryder Cup. Woods needs to win to earn a berth on points and might not qualify for the season-ending US PGA playoffs, meaning a potential long layoff ahead of the Ryder Cup.

"It's speculation what's going to happen. I can't tell you what's going to happen with Tiger," Watson said. "I don't know his physical condition right now.

"I said right from the beginning, if he's playing well and he's in good health, I'll pick him. Obviously he's not in great health right now and he hasn't played very well. So the question is, will I pick him? Well, I can't tell until things happen in the next three or four weeks."

Stricker, who joins Raymond Floyd and Andy North as a US vice captain, wants to see Woods at Gleneagles.

"I know how deeply he wants to be a part of this team and I think that's why he's here," said Stricker, who rare among American players formed an effective partnership with Woods at several Ryder Cups.

"I think he wants to show he can play, he's going to get healthy, because he was on that last Ryder Cup team and we didn't get it done.

"I think that's his underlying reason why he's here and we need Tiger on that team. We know how important he is in the game of golf and how good a match-play player he is."

- Watson is 'Mr. Scotland' -

Watson said he would not need a Woods medical report to show proof how healthy he was, just a talk.

"He is straight up with me," Watson said.

Rosters are not settled until the Ryder Cup opening ceremony on the eve of play, so if issues did surface at Gleneagles, the door would open for Stricker to play if needed.

"What Steve brings here is a great familiarity with the players who are on the tour right now," Watson said. "He's played against them, played with them, has played with them on the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams. So he brings a great deal of understanding of who these players are and their capabilities. That's the bottom line."

Stricker dubbed Watson "Mr. Scotland" for his love of the country and its golf legacy, notably with his success in past Ryder Cups and his 2009 runner-up effort at the British Open in Turnberry.

"I don't know how I am Mr. Scotland if I can't understand the language," Watson joked.


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