Ryder Cup 2018: Tiger Woods hopes recent breakthrough can carry over to team play
SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — For all of Tiger Woods’ greatness, which includes getting his first victory in five years and PGA Tour win No. 80 on Sunday at East Lake, it hasn’t translated as well in the Ryder Cup. In seven career appearances in the biennial event, he has been on just one winning team, in 1999.
Not that all of that could be pinned on Woods of course. At Celtic Manor in 2010, Woods went 3-1 for the week, winning twice with Steve Stricker and in singles play as well. Phil Mickelson, on the other hand, was 1-3 with his only victory coming in singles.
But Woods’ overall record of 13-17-3 in the event isn’t up to snuff with the rest of his historic career, either.
"That's not something that I have really enjoyed and I've really liked seeing,” Woods said Tuesday from Le Golf National.
Woods’ relatively poor record certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. In those seven Ryder Cups, he has played all but two sessions— in 2010 he sat out afternoon four-balls on the second day and did the same in Saturday morning foursomes at Medinah in 2012, the last time he played in the Ryder Cup. The latter came after going 0-2 with Stricker in the first two sessions before the duo returned Saturday afternoon (and lost again in four-balls).
Team play, for whatever reasons, has been the weakest part of Woods’ record in the Ryder Cup through the years, with a 4-8-1 mark in foursomes and a 5-8 record in four-balls. In singles play, he is 4-1-2 and hasn’t lost in the format since 1997 when Constantino Rocca beat him 4 & 2 at Valderrama.
During his career Woods has played with myriad partners, too, a dozen in all, everyone from Chris Riley to, infamously, Phil Mickelson in 2004 when Hal Sutton, for some reason, thought it would be a good idea to pair the two. Despite Woods and Mickelson being Nos. 1 and 2 in the world at the time they didn't not get along nearly as well as they do now and played vastly different styles. The result, predictably, was disastrous. The player Woods has played the most with is Stricker, but they managed just a 2-4 record. He also played with Davis Love III three times, with the two going 2-1 together.
When the U.S. won in 2008, meanwhile, Woods was on the sideline, having undergone reconstructive surgery on his knee that summer. In 2016, the U.S. won again, but Woods was again watching, out with a bad back and serving as a vice captain.
“It's different being a player,” he said. “It was neat to be part of the  team, to be a part of helping the guys in any way I possibly could to make them feel comfortable, to get them into the right circumstances to allow them to play their best golf.
“As a player you focus on your playing partner you're playing with and earning your point. As a vice captain, there's so many moving parts that you're in charge of, and so that was very different in 2016, but my overall Ryder Cup record, not having won as a player since 1999 is something that hopefully we can change.”
Playing the best he has in years should help. History, however, isn’t on his side. The last time the U.S. won on foreign soil was 25 years ago.