Tiger, Phil no shoe in for Ryder Cup

An American Ryder Cup campaign without Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson?

You have to go back to 1993 to find a US team without one or both in the lineup but US team captain Tom Watson gave a categorical indication that that scenario was possible, as the two most dominant players of the past two decades continue to languish outside the automatic qualifying positions for the bi-annual matches in Scotland in September.

Tiger Woods Tiger Woods (Credit: Anthony Powter)

“Everybody is thinking that I’m going to pick them automatically,” Watson said, after a final round 68 to Woods’ 75 saw the 64-year old beat Woods home by five shots at The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

“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, how can you not pick those two?”

Woods has only just returned from a 3-month layoff from back surgery and showed promising signs at The Open with a first round three-under 69 before fading to 69th place, ahead of just three other players who made the cut.

The enforced layoff has seen his Ryder Cup standing slide to 72nd while Mickelson, who shot a final round 68 to tie for 23rd place, is in a more healthy but still precarious 12th position, just outside the automatic top nine places.

“It’s been 19 years now that I’ve made it on my own, and I think it’s a record of consistency to play that well to make the team on your own without being a pick for almost two decades,” Mickelson said. “And I’d like to keep that streak going.”

Watson has to submit his three captain’s picks in the first week of September for the team he hopes till be able to win the Cup back from a European side that now includes the winners of the past two majors in Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy.

Against such a dominant opposition and playing away from home, Watson has his fingers crossed both Woods and Mickelson can make his job easier by taking the selection dilemma out of his hands with a surge in form over the next two months.