America’s stars are all backing Tiger Woods to shine at the K Club this week despite the continued questioning of his appetite for the Ryder Cup.
The world number one’s record in the competition does not befit his standing as a 12-time major winner, having accrued only eight points from a possible 20 in his four appearances so far.
This year, however, Woods appears to be making more of an effort to fit in with the team ethic – despite the distraction of the furore which surfaced yesterday concerning fake pornographic pictures of his Swedish wife Elin.
His team-mates are in no doubt about his importance to the side and to a man they have all highlighted the qualities he brings.
“He’s got the strongest mind in golf. That is why he’s great,” said David Toms, referring to Woods’ reaction to yesterday’s controversy.
“He seemed to be fine once he was on the golf course and doing his thing because that is always his escape, inside the ropes.
“I don’t see how he has as much success as he does because every event he plays in – not just the Ryder Cup but every event – it seems everybody is there to see him.
“In practice we wanted to send him off the back nine and us off the front so we didn’t have as many people out there.”
Zach Johnson, one of four rookies Woods recently took out to dinner, dismissed the suggestion the reigning Open and US PGA champion has no time for team competition.
“Anybody, whether a golf fan, media whoever, who says he doesn’t care about the Ryder Cup really could not be further from the truth,” he said.
“He’s passionate about it. There’s absolutely no question.”
Fellow debutant Brett Wetterich was to the point in his assessment – “It’s a pretty neat feeling to have the best player in the world on your side” – while another first-timer JJ Henry added: “We all respect and admire what Tiger does on the golf course.”
The 31-year-old from Conneticut added: “We look up to him and the fact that every time he goes out and plays it seems like he does something else that’s just unbelievable.
“He’s an extraordinary talent but he’s also a lot of fun to be around and I look on this as a great opportunity to to learn as a player.”
Chad Campbell, at his second Ryder Cup, said he admired Woods’ ability to be in contention in almost every event he played – highlighted by the world number one’s recent run of five consecutive victories which took in the Open and US PGA.
“Tiger goes out there every week and if he is not winning he’s right there close to it,” said the 32-year-old Texan.
“That is probably the most impressive thing about him – even when he doesn’t win he’s playing his best and still puts himself in a position to win.”