Tiger Woods to bring the ‘fire’ after being named Ryder Cup vice captain

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Woods, now 42, underwent fusion surgery on his spine in April but returned to play in December's elite Hero World Challenge, appearing pain free and able to swing freely.

A month on from his long-awaited return to the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods is officially back on the US Ryder Cup team.

Whether the 14-time major winner will be required to bring his clubs to Le Golf National come September is less clear.

Woods was announced as one of Team USA’s vice captains for the biennial event Tuesday, joining Steve Stricker and Davis Love III.

“The Ryder Cup is incredibly special to me,” Woods said, having been picked by Team USA captain Jim Furyk. “I am thrilled to once again serve as a Ryder Cup Vice Captain and I thank Jim for his confidence, friendship and support.

It’s a role he also held two years ago at Hazeltine, offering insight and experience off the course.

Woods, though, wants to play.

“My goal is to make the team, but whatever happens over the course of this season, I will continue to do whatever I can to help us keep the Cup,” he said. “I’m excited about the challenge.”

‘An invaluable resource’

Furyk, captaining the American team for the first time, backed Woods to bring “fire” to the 42nd Ryder Cup, staged this year September 28 and 30 on the outskirts of the French capital.

“To win in Paris will be a great challenge, and to have Steve and Tiger share in the journey is important for me and for American golf,” said Furyk, himself a two-time Ryder Cup winner as a player.

“The deep appreciation they both have for competition, the concept of team, and the Ryder Cup is infectious. Their knowledge and experience will be an invaluable resource in our effort to retain the Ryder Cup.”

Last time out, in 2016, Team USA reclaimed the Ryder Cup with a resounding victory on home soil.

It was particularly sweet for that year’s US Captain Davis Love III. He had been at the helm in 2012 ,when Europe fought back from a seemingly impossible position to clinch a final day victory in what has since been dubbed the “Miracle of Medinah.”

It’s a competition steeped in history and the American’s will be favorites to retain the cup, particularly with Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas all occupying spots in the top five of the official world golf rankings.

But doing so will be tough. History weighs heavy on Furyk and his vice captains, with Team USA winless on European soil since 1993, the year Spieth was born.

Woods, for his part, has not competed in the Ryder Cup as a player since 2012, and only the memory of past glories would warrant changing that at present.

The 44-year-old is ranked 544th in the world and tied with J.J. Henry for 104th in the US standings.

Perhaps with that in mind, Furyk played down expectations but didn’t close the door. The Team USA captain acknowledged he’d “like to do what’s best for Tiger,” but stressed he needs to do “what’s best for the team.”

“That would be a bridge that we would cross when we got there,” Furyk stressed. “If he could be valuable as a player I’m sure we would want him playing on this team.”

One thing’s for sure, Woods’s standing within the game remains unquestioned.

“It’s great to have him,” said Furyk. “When you look at our team room now with the younger players, a lot of them became golf professionals, fell in love with the game of golf, because they wanted to emulate Tiger Woods.”

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