Tiger has struggled at Ryder Cup

Updated: September 26, 2012, 6:48 PM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

MEDINAH, Ill. -- For the better part of his Ryder Cup career, Tiger Woods was the clear No. 1-ranked player in the world, his prowess in major championships looming over the sport.

But that success never translated to the Ryder Cup.

Woods, a 14-time major winner who makes his seventh Ryder Cup appearance for the United States this week at Medinah Country Club, has played on just one winning team, in 1999 -- when the U.S. made the biggest final-day comeback in the event's history.

And he more or less took on the burden for the lack of American victories in the biennial competition against Europe. (Woods missed the only other U.S. victory during that period in 2008 because of a knee surgery.)

"I certainly am responsible for that because I didn't earn the points that I was put out there for," Woods said Tuesday during a Ryder Cup news conference. "I believe I was out there for five sessions each time, and I didn't go 5-0 on our side. So I certainly am a part of that, and that's part of being a team. I needed to get my points for my team, and I didn't do that."

Woods never has missed a Ryder Cup session for the events he has played dating to his first in 1997. His record is 13-14-2, with a 4-1-1 singles mark. In 2010, the event had just four sessions due to weather, and he went 3-1.

The lack of Ryder Cup success is not limited to Woods. None of the eight players on the U.S. team with previous experience has a winning record. And the other veterans -- Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk -- also have not fared well.

Mickelson played in his first Ryder Cup in 1995 and is 11-17-6. He lost all three of his team matches in Wales and captured just 1 out of 4 with two ties four years ago at Valhalla.

Furyk is 8-15-4 in seven appearances with a brutal 1-8-1 record in four-ball. That puts their combined record at 32-46-12.

In 2006, the trio went into the Ryder Cup ranked 1-2-3 in the world -- and the U.S. lost for the second straight time to Europe by a record margin, 18½ to 9½.

"In order to win Cups, you have to earn points and we certainly have not earned points," Woods said. "And on top of that, I think that Phil, Jim and myself have been put out there a lot during those years. So if we are not earning points, it's hard to win Ryder Cups that way."

Starting in 1995, the U.S. has won just two Ryder Cups -- both at home. Twice, the Americans have been defeated by record margins in that span.

"As dominant as he was through most of those years, I think anyone would be a little surprised to see .500," said Furyk of Woods' Ryder Cup record. "But also that has a lot to do with -- no one has an extremely good record on our team and that would be because we haven't won a lot of these matches."

Former European Ryder Cup player and 2010 winning captain Colin Montgomerie said it typically gave his side a boost to knock off Woods, hence some extra motivation and yet a feeling of nothing to lose.

"He's found a couple of partners now and I think it used to drag down the Americans when the momentum was wanting to be gathered by the fact that Tiger Woods was going to win," said Montgomerie, who is doing commentary this week for Sky Sports in the United Kingdom. "And it is amazing how he was going to that degree. I think that anybody playing Tiger Woods has just got to play his own game; that's all they can do."

Graeme McDowell, who clinched the Ryder Cup for Europe at Celtic Manor two years ago when he defeated Hunter Mahan in the final singles match, believes his teammates have raised their games to take on Woods.

"I liken it to playing Premiership football (soccer)," McDowell said. "Any lesser team that comes to play these guys, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal ... they have a tendency to raise their game, because it's a huge game for an underdog to play a Tiger Woods.

"And they get up for it. They are not expected to win. When expectation levels drop, game tends to improve. A guy who plays Tiger Woods, or a player of that caliber, doesn't expect to win, so he lets it all go and he plays out of his skin and gets the upset."

For all the talk of Woods' record in the Ryder Cup, he has not lost a singles match since his first appearance in 1997. And he is 6-3 in his past two Ryder Cups.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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