SOUTHPORT, England – U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson says that Tiger Woods will be on the U.S. team if he's healthy and playing well.
But what if he's healthy and not playing at all?
Woods is at No. 209 in the FedExCup standings and needs to get to No. 125 to qualify for the playoffs. This next month of three tournaments – the British Open, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship – ultimately will decide if he's in Gleneagles for the Ryder Cup the last weekend in September.
"He'll be considered less of a pick then if he didn't have a track record going into the Ryder Cup," Watson said last week. "He'd be the first to tell you, `I haven't been playing.' How he's been playing and if he's healthy, those are the two factors that I'll weigh in choosing him. That's just common sense, in my opinion."
Here's a common-sense way to look at the next month:
--If Woods qualifies for the FedExCup playoffs, he's on the team. He'll have played good golf to get there.
--Even if he comes close to the playoffs, Watson might consider that reasonable form to be one of three picks.
--If he doesn't feature in any of the three tournaments, and doesn't come close to making the playoffs, Woods will have two weeks out of golf (unless he chooses to play a Web.com Tour event) before Watson has to make his picks.
"I'll be watching Tiger as he plays," Watson said. "He'll be playing at the Open Championship. Hope to get together with him there and tell him my feelings. ... 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?"
Fred Couples reached that conclusion three years ago for the Presidents Cup, except the timetable was different. Woods missed two majors in 2011 because of injuries and didn't qualifying for the playoffs. Couples declared him to be on the team a month before making his picks.
"There is no reason for me to wait," Couples said. "He's the best player in the world forever."
Those matches, however, were not played until November. Watson might not have that luxury.