Tiger Woods’ role in the Ryder Cup this week? Zach Johnson explains
But at the captain’s press conference on Monday in Rome alongside his European counterpart Luke Donald, Johnson said that Woods’ influence will perhaps be a bit less robust than initially expected.
“No, Tiger will not be joining us in Italy,” Johnson said. “He’s got a lot on his plate.”
While Woods’ physical presence will be missed at Marco Simone, Johnson said he expects Woods to be an important source of support from afar — even if it’s on the periphery.
“As far as conferring with him, communicating with him, I mean, we have up to this point, and he is one of — he understands that now that our feet are on the ground, it’s probably kind of best that we navigate this ourselves,” Johnson said. “But he’s always on inner corner, and at this point it’s more encouragement on his side, whether he’s texting the guys or texting the vice captains and captains, he’s there to encourage because he’s very invested in what we do year-in and year-out with Team USA, and that has never ceased and I’m grateful for that.
“I mean, he’s the best player of our generation. Thankfully, he’s an American. We are going to utilize his knowledge and his wisdom and his candor and his passion the best we can. When it comes to the week of the tournament, if you’re not in on it and inside the team room, inside the ropes, shoulder-to-shoulder with these guys, it’s not fair to ask him questions. It’s probably — he can give us insights, don’t get me wrong. At the same time, I don’t know if that’s proper, and I think he would understand completely.”
It’s hard to overstate Woods’ influence on the Ryder Cup over the last two decades. He’s played on eight Ryder Cup teams and served as a playing vice captain to Jim Furyk in 2018. Then, in February ahead of the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, Woods broke bones in his right leg and ankle in a car accident. Still, he sent a motivational message to the Americans ahead of their record-setting 19-9 win.
Woods hasn’t played competitively since he withdrew from the 2023 Masters after two rounds, citing re-aggravated plantar fasciitis. In the days immediately following his withdrawal, Woods underwent a subtalar fusion procedure to address post-traumatic arthritis from the talus fracture he sustained in his 2021 car accident.
The 2023 Ryder Cup begins on Friday.