Woods in U-turn over Ryder Cup and claims signs of improvement

World No 1 now willing to accept captain's wild-card pick after being buoyed by working with new coach

Tiger Woods has changed his mind – he would accept a captain's pick to appear at Celtic Manor in the Ryder Cup in two months' time. As the tale of this falling idol became increasingly bizarre here yesterday, it was irresistible to speculate how different his life now would be if only he could have performed such a dramatic U-turn as he sped towards that fire hydrant nine months ago.

On Sunday it was “definitely not, not playing like this”, when asked if he would take a wild card off the US captain, Corey Pavin. Two days and absolutely no competitive golf later and the same question provoked an unequivocal “Yes.” So now it’s over to Pavin. When US qualifying ends here at the USPGA and he begins his three-week deliberation on his

chosen four, does he go with the

greatest golfer whose game has

seemingly unravelled as calamitously as his life?

It is a query Pavin will doubtless face when it is his turn to sit down with the press today. If he is picking purely on form, he is in a horrible position. How he must be praying Woods stays true to the statement he repeated over and over this time last weekend and which he only modified slightly yesterday. “I would like to play myself on to that team,” he said, replacing “plan” with “would like”.

In Akron as he struggled pitifully to a final-round 77 and the worst 72-hole finish of his 14-year professional career, it was impossible for anyone – including himself – to have any confidence in Woods securing here the top 10-placing he requires to give him a chance of qualifying by right. But now, he sounded a different creature. “It’s starting to feel a little better,” he said. “It’s starting to come around.”

A continuing case of self delusion? Or has he really found something here these last few days? The word has been that after being dumped by Hank Haney three months ago he has began working with a new coach in Sean Foley, who tutors, among others, Justin Rose and last week’s winner at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, Hunter Mahan. Woods denied the link-up was official but did confess it was a “possibility”. This is one new relationship he should confess to.

All Foley did for Woods in a practice round with Mahan yesterday was hold the video camera and assist him in taking a look at his swing. “That’s what we did and I’m heading in the right direction,” said Woods. If he is right – and most still roll their eyes in the absurdity of it all – then he’s taken his time in the comeback which began with a fourth place at the Masters in April. But while everyone else has witnessed a decline in these five remarkable months, he has actually seen an upturn in fortunes. “In life you just have to keep going forward and that’s what I’m doing now,” he said. “Life is certainly getting better.”

Woods was essentially talking about his family life, although as ever with the new Tiger the off-course inextricably linked with the on-course. Friends such as David Feherty have talked of the impending divorce “slamming doors in his head” which have caused destructive distraction to the most focused psyche in the history of game. It was something Woods felt obliged to address yesterday. “To be honest with you, with all that’s been going on I thought I would have been here, playing this poorly, a little bit sooner,” he said. “But somehow I was able to play a little bit better than I thought for a stretch. And then it finally caught up with me last week.”

While he might have been half-expecting that horror show at a course where he had previously won seven out of 10 times, nobody else was. His 18-over total for a tie for 78th in the 80-man field has led to a fresh burst of Tiger baiting in America. Said Jay Leno on The Tonight Show: “His sponsors Nike are changing their motto from “Just Do It” to “Just Get It Over With.”

In fact, many here believe that is exactly what he should do if and when it goes wrong for Woods at this, the season’s final major. He should put his clubs away and take a prolonged break, just as Sergio Garcia is planning. But no, Woods now wishes to play in the Ryder Cup and so the show carries on. If not for himself, then for his country. But this is an individual sport and starting tomorrow he will attempt to rescue the year and his ranking.

Phil Mickelson is still poised to usurp him as world No 1, although

Mickelson has had his own troubles. A few hours after Woods’ latest inquisition, the left-hander took the stage and revealed he has been suffering from psoriatic arthritis so acute that he awoke one morning at the US Open in June and felt he couldn’t walk. But there’s a fix for his pain – medication. The fix for Woods remains undiscovered.

Where are they playing?

* The Whistling Straits courses of Haven, Wisconsin, have been designed to replicate ancient seaside links courses in Ireland. Taking their name from the temperamental winds which sweep in off a two-mile stretch of Lake Michigan, the courses feature vast rolling greens, deep bunkers and grassy dunes.

* The Straits course, one of two courses at the venue, will also host the PGA Championships in 2015 and the 2020 Ryder Cup. The course last hosted the PGA Championships in 2004.

* The total length of the Straits course is 7,514 yards, with a par of 72. The most difficult hole is seen to be the 17th, known as the "Pinched Nerve". At 223 yards, the hole boasts towering sand dunes and, with Lake Michigan to the left, has been termed the course's unofficial signature hole, as it leaves golfers with no option but to go for the green.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map