Tiger Woods: U.S. Ryder Cup team needs to stay sharp

Doug Ferguson
Associated Press
Tiger Woods told prospective players for the Presidents Cup that he wants them to keep playing this fall to stay prepared.

Tiger Woods wants the eight players who made his Presidents Cup team and four more under consideration as captain’s picks to play tournaments and stay sharp over the next three months leading to the December matches Down Under.

Left unclear was whether that applies to the captain if Woods decides to pick himself.

Woods said he told prospective Presidents Cup players at a meeting two weeks ago how important it was to be committed to the team and to the event.

“And that means playing and being prepared,” he said during a conference call. “The only time we have ever lost the Cup was in Australia, and quite frankly, some of the guys didn’t play or practice that much. It was our offseason, and we got beat pretty badly.”

The matches were held the first week of December in 1998 at Royal Melbourne, and the International team routed the Americans so badly it clinched the cup before lunch was served.

It remains the only time the International team won since the Presidents Cup began in 1994. The teams tied in South Africa in 2003.

“It’s something I try to reinforce to the guys, that it is important to be solid, be fresh and be sharp,” Woods said. “We’re going overseas and we’re playing against an amazing team, and it’s their soil. These guys are going to be tough to beat.”

The Americans won in a return to Royal Melbourne in 2011 when it was held in mid-November. This time, the matches end 10 days before Christmas.

Woods, this year’s Masters champion, was not among the eight qualifiers after the BMW Championship, finishing 13th in the standings. And while he wants his players and potential picks to stay sharp, Woods has only one tournament on his schedule — the Zozo Championship in Japan from Oct. 24-27.

So does that rule him out when he makes his four picks a week after Japan?

“I don’t know. That’s up to myself and the vice captains and eight guys,” he said.

The eight qualifiers are Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Matt Kuchar and Bryson DeChambeau.

All but Cantlay and Schauffele have played in a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup. Cantlay played in the Walker Cup in 2011.

Among those needing a pick are U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Chez Reavie and Kevin Kisner — along with Woods and Mickelson, who has played on every U.S. team dating to the 1994 Presidents Cup.

All but Finau have won tournaments this year.

Curry helping Howard

Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry is helping Howard University re-establish a golf program. Curry is providing a donation that will allow one of the country’s most prominent historically black universities to launch Division I women’s and men’s teams for the 2020-21 academic year.

The 31-year-old Curry, who has won three NBA championships with the Golden State Warriors, has long been known as a passionate golfer.

After watching the film — which chronicles the 2015 shooting of nine black worshippers at a church in South Carolina — Curry was approached by Howard student Otis Ferguson, who explained to Curry how he had been unsuccessfully trying to start up an official university golf team. Howard had previously fielded a Division II golf team but that was discontinued.

At a Monday news conference, Curry singled out Ferguson for applause and recalled their chance meeting.

“We connected on golf,” he said. “Accountability, competition, discipline — all those different ideals we learned through the game of golf.”

The exact amount of Curry’s donation has not been disclosed, but the university announced it would be a six-year partnership.

Venue change

The PGA Tour’s Barracuda Championship is looking for a new home after the golf club that’s hosted the event since it began in Reno in 1999 pulled out.

Montreux Golf & Country Club’s board of directors voted last week against holding the 2020 event at the mountain course between Reno and Lake Tahoe.