Tiger Woods shoots 4th-round 75

ByBob Harig ESPN logo
Sunday, July 20, 2014

HOYLAKE, England -- Tiger Woods finished a disappointing week at the Open Championship with his worst 72-hole finish in a major as a pro.

But Woods didn't shy away from a Ryder Cup question, in which he believes Tom Watson should make him a captain's pick.

Woods shot a final-round 75 to finish in 69th place -- two shots ahead of U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer -- in just his second tournament since March 31 back surgery.

Asked afterward if Watson should pick him, Woods made it clear he'd like to be on the United States team that plays against Europe at Gleneagles in September.

"I would say yes; but that's my position, my take on it," Woods said. "He's the captain. Obviously it's his decision. He's going to field the best 12 players that he thinks will win the Cup back. And I hope I'm on that team."

Woods does not have a realistic chance of being among the nine automatic qualifiers, which will be determined after the PGA Championship in three weeks. Watson then has three at-large selections following the second FedCup playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship. Those picks will be made Sept 2.

Complicating matters is the fact that Woods has a tall order in qualifying for the playoffs. With just two events left that he is expected to play -- the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational followed by the PGA Championship -- Woods would likely need to average top-three finishes in those tournaments.

Woods is 212th in the standings prior to the end of play Sunday, and needs to be among the top 125 to make it to the Barclays tournament next month. If he doesn't, Woods would have no PGA Tour events to play in the month leading up to the Ryder Cup.

Asked if he would consider playing elsewhere, perhaps on the European Tour, Woods didn't discount qualifying.

"Well, I'd like to win the next two tournaments I'm in. That should take care of that," he said.

Not helping the situation was the fact that Watson, 64, beat Woods here at Royal Liverpool, shooting a final-round 68 to move past him on the leaderboard.

"If he's playing well and in good health, I'll pick him," said Watson, repeating his recent stance on the subject. "But the caveat to that is if he doesn't make the FedEx Cup, what do I do then? That's not here yet."

Asked if would expect Woods to play a tournament elsewhere during the FedEx playoffs, Watson said: "That's up to him. It's not a mandatory thing. It would make it tougher for me to pick him if he's not playing."

Watson admitted that it is not a great situation to have Woods as well as Phil Mickelson outside of the team at this point. They are the two most acclaimed American players in the last 20 years.

"If Phil and Tiger don't make it in the mix there, I've got some real thinking to do," Watson said. "Everybody is thinking that I'm going to pick them automatically. I can assure you that I'm not going to pick them automatically. I said about Tiger that I'll pick him if he's playing well and he's in good health.

"And Phil is the same way. If he's playing well, again, how can you not pick those two?"

Woods lamented another day of mistakes and acknowledged that his game needs work. But he also took the long view, recognizing that he's now played just six rounds of competitive golf since returning from surgery and has played two tournaments when many wondered if he'd be here at all.

"Well, yeah, that includes my docs," Woods said. "The fact I was able to play a few weeks ahead of time, and I'm only getting stronger and faster, which is great.

"I just had to get more game time. I think we did the smart thing by not playing too much leading into this event, just want to assess how my back was. And where I need to strengthen, how I need to go about it, how to gain my explosiveness again, and all that's come along."

Prior to the tournament, Woods responded to a question about his satisfaction level this week by saying finishing first would be the only answer. But that was hardly realistic.

Woods said he expected competitive rust issues to be an issue, but figured he could work his way through it.

"I just thought that -- I know how to play links golf, I know how to grind it on these golf courses, and hitting the shots I thought I could get around here," he said. "I did the first day. After a bad start I got it back. And unfortunately, as I said, I made too many mistakes with the doubles and triples.

"I've got more game time under my belt. Obviously there's a lot of things I need to work on, but I haven't been able to work on a lot. I was down for three months. So I'm just now starting to come back."

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