AFP/Paramus, United States
Tiger Woods is aiming to cement his claim to a place in the USA’s Ryder Cup team as he prepares for this week’s Northern Trust Open in New Jersey.
The former world number one said Tuesday securing a place in Jim Furyk’s Ryder Cup squad
had been one of his goals at the start of his comeback season after nearly two years out with injury.
Woods heads into this week’s opening leg of the lucrative FedEx Cup Play-Off Series after a thrilling diplay at the PGA Championship, where he came up just short to finish second.
Woods is ranked 11th on the USA Ryder Cup points table but must wait until September 5 to learn whether he has earned one of captain Furyk’s wildcard selections.
Either way, Woods is assured to travel to France as one of Furyk’s vice-captains. The 14-time major winner however is determined to travel as a player.
“I want to be picked and I want to be part of the team,” said Woods yesterday.
“The interesting role here is that I’m a vice captain, so we’re talking about myself in the third person a lot. So, that’s one of the more interesting conversations we were having.
“We were having a lot of fun with it but yeah I’m one of the guys on the short list and sometimes I’ve got to pull myself out of there and talk about myself in the third person, which is a little odd.”
Asked by an AFP reporter if he dreamed of playing on the USA team he replied: “Yes, I do.”
“I started at the very beginning of the year, I told Jim I wanted to be a part of the team, not just as a vice captain but as a player. I’m very close to making that happen.
‘A long year’
“It’s been a long year and one that was one of my goals was to make that team, because to be part of that team, you’ve got to be one of the 12 best players and I’m kind of trending towards that.”
Though foremost on Woods’ mind is committing himself to all four ‘Play-Off’ events including being among the leading 30 and thus qualify for the FedEx Cup deciding Tour Championship that commences on September 20th in Atlanta.
“I’m playing the first three right now and that should get me into Atlanta and on the back side is obviously The Ryder Cup,” said Woods who is currently ranked 20th on the FedEx Cup standings.
“That is a lot of golf and as I was explaining to you guys back in Akron, it’s about pacing myself and making sure I don’t practice too much, don’t overdo it, and make sure my training schedule goes well. “That’s one of the hard things this year is trying to find the right balance, and as the summer has gone on, I’ve gotten better and felt better, and this is a pretty important stretch.”
Woods meanwhile reflected on his failure to make more birdies in his PGA Championship performance. “It was exciting to make a run but I lost by two at the end,” Woods said. “I did make a push on Sunday which was nice.
“I shot a low round but it just wasn’t enough, on a golf course that soft, we needed to make a few more birdies.”
Woods will contest the opening two rounds of this week’s tournament in the company of Australia’s Marc Leishman and current European No 1 Tommy Fleetwood.
Strangely, the trio were grouped together earlier this year for the first two days of the Masters but with Woods struggling with scores of 73 and 75.
Steyn faces another injury lay-off South African fast bowler Dale Steyn could be set for another stint on the sidelines after picking up a groin injury in a county cricket match on Monday.
The 35-year-old, who will undergo an examination of the problem later, was unable to complete his 11th over for Hampshire against Nottinghamshire at Southampton and was forced to leave the field.
Steyn has had a horrible run of injuries over the last two years, hampering his bid to become South Africa’s record Test wicket-taker, though he did equal the record in Sri Lanka last month.
Steyn and Shaun Pollock have each taken 421 Test wickets.
A serious shoulder injury kept him out for most of last year before a heel problem sustained in his comeback test against India in February sidelined him once more.
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