Former Ryder Cup player Andrew Coltart believes US captain Tom Watson will be relieved that Tiger Woods has ruled himself out of next month’s contest at Gleneagles.
Woods failed to qualify for the team automatically and informed the PGA of America and Watson that, after playing just 11 full tournament rounds on his return to action following back surgery, he did not wish to be considered for one of the three wild card places.
“I don’t think necessarily it’s going to be a bad thing for the US team,” said Coltart, who lost to Woods in the singles at Brookline in 1999, the only time the 14-time major winner has been on a winning team.
“Certainly it’s a bit of a relief for Tom Watson because it was a huge decision that he was going to have to come up with. The decision has been made for him.
“It’s a big break I think for Tom Watson, gives himself a bit of space. There was no way Woods was going to play five matches, I think he would have been lucky to play three with a bad back.
“Mentally I think he is also struggling. He can’t be happy with the golf swing, he is hitting the ball sideways.
“Tom Watson getting that extra pick if you like, the freedom to pick somebody else, I think it will possibly make that American team a little stronger.
“Collectively they are going to come together a bit like a wounded animal. They’ve got several players out, Dustin Johnson (who has taken a leave of absence), Jason Dufner has an injured neck, Matt Kuchar has a bad back, they’re not coming into this the way they would hope.
“They are definitely the underdogs.”
Kuchar qualified for the team but withdrew before the start of the US PGA Championship last week, while Dufner’s title defence at Valhalla lasted just 10 holes and he dropped out of the automatic places as a result.
Asked if Watson could make Woods a vice-captain instead, Coltart added: “What we see between the lines is potentially that the American team has always struggled with a bunch of egos, they are all individuals.
“Europe is always great in coming together as a team, there are some great team players like (Sergio) Garcia and (Ian) Poulter, guys that are not afraid to put their arms around players.
“I’m not so sure you get that from Tiger. I don’t think using him as a vice-captain would be a great thing.”
Woods pulled out of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with back problems on the ninth hole of his final round, but insisted he was pain free at the US PGA Championship just three days later.
However, he re-injured himself before his second round and went on to miss the halfway cut for just the fourth time in 66 majors as a professional.
“I’ve been told by my doctors and trainer that my back muscles need to be rehabilitated and healed. They’ve advised me not to play or practice now,” Woods said in a statement.
“I’m extremely disappointed that I won’t be ready for the competition.”