T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
Form a factor for Tiger's Ryder Cup hopes, says Watson
After a three-month absence from the PGA Tour to recover from back surgery, Woods returned to competition last week at the Quicken Loans National where he missed the cut.
Woods is currently No. 69 in the U.S. standings. The top nine players at the conclusion of the PGA Championship earn an automatic berth on the team. The team will be filled out in early September when Watson makes his three captain's picks.
"As I've said in front of the press, if he's playing well and he's healthy, he's on the team," Watson said. "Right now he's way down the list as far as points, but who wouldn't pick Tiger Woods to be on your Ryder Cup team? That is the question to everybody. Who wouldn't pick him?"
While there's an outside chance that Woods would add tournaments to his schedule in a push to earn more Ryder Cup points, chances are he'll only make three starts between now and the PGA Championship -- the Open, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship. All of those tournaments are on courses where Woods has won before -- Royal Liverpool, Firestone and Valhalla. Keep in mind the majors are worth double points.
The other concern in terms of Tiger's Ryder Cup hopes becomes his FedExCup standing. Right now, Woods is No. 208 in points. Only the top 125 players qualify for the first leg of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup -- the Barclays.
The only tournament between the PGA Championship and the Barclays in which Woods could earn points is the Wyndham Championship.
Watson has routinely stated that Woods needs to be "playing well and healthy," to be deserving of a Captain's pick.
There's a chance, however, that Woods -- while healthy -- may not be eligible to play in the two playoff events leading up to Watson's decision on his Captain's picks.
"He'll be considered less of a pick then if he didn't have a track record going into the Ryder Cup, of course," Watson said. "He'd be the first to tell you, 'I haven't been playing.' Like I said, how he's been playing and if he's healthy, those are the two factors that I'll weigh in choosing. That's just common sense in my opinion."
Here is Watson's news conference: