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Tiger could hurt USA bid for glory, claims Lee Westwood

By Phil Casey

Published 22/09/2016

Mind games: Lee Westwood has doubted US vice-captain Tiger Woods
Mind games: Lee Westwood has doubted US vice-captain Tiger Woods

Lee Westwood has questioned whether Tiger Woods will have a positive impact in his role as a Ryder Cup vice-captain.

Woods has not played competitively since August last year following a third back operation in the space of 19 months, but will be at Hazeltine next week as part of American captain Davis Love's backroom staff.

Despite winning 14 Majors and spending a record 683 weeks as World No.1, Woods has lost 17 of his 33 Ryder Cup matches and Westwood is not convinced the 40-year-old will be a huge asset off the course.

"I don't know what impact there will be from having Tiger around," Westwood said. "They (the US team) have always struggled to find a partner for Tiger who's been successful.

"He could have an adverse effect in the team room. People have always seemed to try to do too much when they have partnered him. It might be different if he's one of the vice-captains -you don't know."

Europe are seeking an unprecedented fourth straight victory in the biennial contest and Westwood, who will make a 10th consecutive appearance after being given a wild card by captain Darren Clarke, believes the pressure is firmly on the home team.

"They have got a strong side and probably are favourites, but haven't won it for a while and are playing in front of a home crowd," the 43-year-old added. "There's pressure on them."

Meanwhile, England's Paul Casey may not be eligible for the Ryder Cup, but the "weird" feeling of watching be eased by having an extra $11.5m (£8.8m) in his bank account.

Asked ahead of the Tour Championship, where he joins Rory McIlroy in action, if he would miss being part of next week's clash at Hazeltine, Casey said: "Of course, yes. That's going to be... it's a weird one."

Casey played in the record nine-point wins in 2004 and 2006 and Europe's last attempt to claim four straight victories at Valhalla in 2008, but was in tears after being overlooked for a wild card by captain Colin Montgomerie in 2010, when he was ranked seventh in the world.

"When I've missed a Ryder Cup because I haven't qualified, you watch with a sense of I wish I was there, but I had my opportunity," he said. "So maybe watching because I'm not eligible... maybe I'll have the same feeling. Yeah, it hurts a bit more."

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