We must play 18th hole better: Woods

The 18th hole haunted the Americans two years ago in their landslide loss to Europe in the Ryder Cup.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:36 IST
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The 18th hole haunted the Americans two years ago in their landslide loss to Europe in the Ryder Cup. Eleven of the 28 matches went the full 18 holes. Of those, Europe won eight-and-a-half points - meaning the Europeans came through on the final hole. "The Europeans did that at Oakland Hills. They played 18 better than we did and, hence, they won the cup pretty easily," Tiger Woods said Tuesday, arriving to play three straight events in England and Ireland. That includes next week's Ryder Cup at The K Club. The Europeans, who have won four of the last five Ryder Cup, are the favorites this time. Some have even called this one of the weakest US teams in the Ryder's 79-year history. "This year we are definitely the underdogs," Woods said. Interrupting a question, Woods made his point again to a group of mostly British reporters. "We are definitely the underdogs," he said. The timing of next week's Ryder Cup allows Woods to come a week early and play the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth - just west of London - and then stay over for the American Express Championship at The Grove north of London. Losing record at Ryder Cup Woods is on a five-tournament winning streak. He has won 12 career majors, but has a losing Ryder Cup record. He blamed this on the 18-hole match-play format, which is less forgiving than a 72-hole stroke-play event. "I've played some of my best golf in these (Ryder) matches, and I've won and lost points," he said. "And I've played some of my worst golf, and won and lost points. When you play 18 holes, anything can happen." Woods also acknowledged the hoopla surrounding the Ryder Cup has been difficult. "I look forward to competing and playing," he said "I always love doing that. But I'm not a really big function guy, so that part's never been fun for me." The two weeks surrounding the Ryder Cup offer big pay days. The World Match Play winner gets one million pounds, billed as the largest winner's purse in golf. The American Express winner picks up 1.3 million dollars. Woods has played the World Match Play only once, finishing second to friend Mark O'Meara in 1998. He opens first-round play on Thursday against Shaun Micheel. The event features an unusual 36 holes daily, or a possible eight rounds in four days. (AP)