Will we see Tiger Woods play on next year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team? Given his age and injuries, it’s not likely, as the 15-time major winner played just three times last season.
But 2023 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson isn’t leaving Woods’ involvement with the team up to his playing status, or even his physical ability.
“He will be a part of this team in some capacity,” Johnson said Tuesday at a Ryder Cup media event. “He already is, frankly.”
Johnson made light of the fact the second question of the press conference was about Woods, who’s played only a handful of times since his car accident in February 2021 left him with sever injuries to his leg.
He was absent from last month’s President’s Cup but was in contact with captain Davis Love III, even speaking on the phone during play. He also made his presence felt at the 2021 Ryder Cup remotely. (The last Ryder Cup Woods played in was 2018 in Paris.)
He could be named a vice captain like he was for the 2016 Ryder Cup after a season in which he didn’t make any starts on the PGA Tour due to injury. He also served as an assistant captain for the U.S. Presidents Cup team the following year before serving as a playing captain for the 2019 Presidents Cup team.
With all that experience, it’s no wonder Johnson, who was an assistant captain to Love at this year’s Presidents Cup, wants to have Woods’ opinion heard.
“He and I will be in constant communication,” he said. “I will welcome that. He has great ideas. Has great encouragement. He’s always positive, and you know, the beauty of where we are as Team USA is we have got some really great youth that are participating now at a high level.”
Woods’ public (and playing) appearances have been few and far between in recent years, but Johnson said Woods wants to be a part of the Ryder Cup team in some way next year. However, part of the uncertainty is whether it will be comfortable for Woods to travel to Italy next fall.
“I can’t put this mildly: he loves the Ryder Cup,” Johnson said. “He has made it a priority of his, and certainly Team USA. He wants to be a part of it as best he can. Obviously he’s gone through some things as of late that make it difficult whether it’s travel or what-have-you.
“But he’s very much a part of Team USA. I don’t know what’s going to happen next September, but you can rest assured that he will be in constant communication with our team.”