Tiger Woods smells Ryder Cup blood, says Padraig Harrington
If European fans are hoping to see the same old uncomfortable Tiger Woods turning up at the Ryder Cup in two weeks time then Padraig Harrington says they will be very disappointed.
The Irishman is convinced Woods's troubles will at last result in the world No 1 becoming a team player.
“In previous Ryder Cups, Tiger has struggled with the structure of the event,” said Harrington yesterday.
“Playing a practice round at 11am, I don't think he's ever done that in his life.
“Normally he's out at 6am and off the course by 11am. There are a lot of things at a Ryder Cup that don't fit into Tiger's normal schedule.
“But having got a pick this year he might feel a bit like me and turn round and say, 'What do you need me to do?' Being picked you are not as much focused on yourself, as on the team.”
This were courageous comments. Woods's discomfort in the biennial dust-up is one of the elephants in the locker room and very few of his colleagues are prepared to tackle the issue. Perhaps Harrington feels able to because he finds himself in a similar position as a multiple major-winner who did not qualify by right.
“The Ryder Cup could be the pinnacle of his year, like it could be for me,” said Harrington, one of the by infamous “FedEx Four” who skipped the last qualifying event in Europe to play in the States. Tiger is coming in not having achieved a lot of his goals this year. He is probably thinking 'I want to play well to make this a special year'. He will be in a fighting mood.
“Two years ago I was burned out coming into the Ryder, but I'm not going to be like that this time. And Tiger is not going to be like that either.”
Harrington's belief is at odds with that of Woods who has maintained that as he tried his damnedest in every Ryder Cup he couldn't possibly put any more into the US cause.
Whether Harrington is simply just more honest or not, he is inclined to disagree.
“Two years ago I was like 'do I have to turn up on the Monday, that's very early,'“ he admitted. “I was tired and wanting to do my own thing. Like I said, everything is very structured in the week and you don't get your own time to practise. I heard that from other players and it was an issue the US team had for a long while. But you don't feel like that when you're a captain's pick. You're like 'great it's Monday, what can I do?' You feel you've got to give a bit more back.”
Harrington is well aware of the criticism which greeted his selection over the world No 7, Paul Casey.
“I definitely feel under more pressure,” said Harrington. “I was flat last time, but it's the opposite this year. I'm hoping to be at my peak. It's all about the Ryder Cup for me.”