Tiger no longer casual about Ryder Cup

updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
  • Total Shares

Sutton Coldfield, England:

Tiger Woods had a million reasons why he wanted to win the World Golf Championship. He came up with one reason that caused such a fuss. He was only kidding. "I was just trying to be funny," Woods said on Tuesday, backing off his comments from last week in Ireland when he earned $1 million for winning the American Express Championship. "Obviously things were taken way out of context". This week is no laughing matter. The Americans are again favoured to win the Ryder Cup, somewhat of a mystery, since Europe has won five of the last eight times, and only once since 1983 have the matches been decided by more than two points. The Ryder Cup has not been particularly kind to Woods, either. One of the most glaring holes in an otherwise awesome record since he turned professional is his Ryder Cup record. Woods is a paltry 3-6-1 in two Ryder Cups, splitting his singles matches and taking on five partners in eight team matches. "I wish it was better," he said. "That means I would have contributed more points to my team. But I haven't done that". Woods slipped out of his Nike swooshes and into his Ryder Cup uniform for the first day of formal practice on a course only four players on the US team have played. He spent his first night at The Belfry playing pingpong, and had one spirited game against Phil Mickelson and his wife Amy. For 51 weeks out of the year, Woods is the No. 1 player in the world and the man everyone is trying to beat. At the Ryder Cup, he is one of 12 players on a team. He looked the same as he did last week, when he won in Ireland by making 24 birdies and an eagle in 72 holes at Mount Juliet. Will he be any different at the Ryder Cup? "I think anybody would be hard-pressed to say that man is not trying to win every time he puts a tee in the ground," Hal Sutton said. "I think there's more reason for him to want to win the Ryder Cup and do well in it, because that's one of the few times he hasn't done as well. I'm pretty sure his juices will be flowing this week". Woods acknowledged that much. While he joked last week there were "a million reasons why" he would rather win the American Express Championship, he said the Ryder Cup brought a different emotion, even comparing the matches to the final round in a major championship. "They're two completely different animals," Woods said. "You're a lot more juiced on the first tee here than you are in a normal tour event, just because if you get off to a bad start you can lose a match. You get off to a bad start in a tournament, you can still win". Woods is a Ryder Cup fan this week, but he hasn't lost perspective. The matches were postponed one year because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, although it is doubtful the Ryder Cup will be any less intense. Woods expects this to be just like his previous two experiences - good golf, a winner and a loser, than back to their regularly scheduled programming. "It's not life or death," he said. "This is an athletic event. Win or lose, we'll shake each other's hand and go have a beer". (AP)