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Watson urges Tiger Woods to make Ryder bid

By Phil Casey

Five-time Open champion Tom Watson has warned the doubters that Tiger Woods is a long way from being written off.

This week's 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool sees the former world number one making only his second appearance since back surgery in March.

The last of Woods' 14 majors incredibly came at the 2008 US Open and, while the Hoylake links is to his liking after he lifted the last of his three Claret Jugs there eight years ago, he is still struggling to regain the sort of form which saw him dominate the sport for over a decade.

As a result it puts his place at September's Ryder Cup in jeopardy, although team captain Watson insists if his compatriot is fit and playing well he will pick him – providing there is some vestige of form.

Woods' assertion he has arrived in Hoylake to win this week has drawn ridicule from some quarters considering he missed the cut on his only other post-operative outing at the Quicken Loans last month.

But Watson does not understand the criticism.

"It is silly to think that way about what he says. Why can't you understand that Tiger Woods may well win this tournament?" he said.

"I hope that is the attitude most players have coming in.

"Ask Justin Rose (who has just won back-to-back events) if he intends to win here this week.

"I wouldn't write off Tiger Woods for a long time the way he plays the game.

"He is a tough competitor, he knows how to swing the club: yes, he's had some injuries and other issues but you fully expect him to have a much longer career.

"You have to respect what his capabilities have been and probably will be again sometime.

"I guarantee you that players looking at these new electronic scoreboards are going to be looking for Tiger Woods' name, guaranteed."

Watson plans to speak to Woods this week just to get an idea of how he feels his game is progressing but even then he admits performances are what counts.

"I could ask Tiger, 'How are you feeling? How are you feeling like you're hitting the ball? Are you hitting it well?"' he added.

"That doesn't mean anything, really. The performance means something. I'll be watching Tiger and I want him on the team."

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