MEDINAH, Illinois (Reuters) - The United States Ryder Cup team put smiles on millions of American golf fans on Saturday but Tiger Woods was not among them.
The biennial U.S.-Europe showdown has never brought out the best in Woods but the 14-time major winner slumped to new lows at Medinah Country Club, losing all three of his matches and being benched for the first time in his Ryder Cup career.
After being relegated to the sidelines by captain Davis Love III for Saturday’s morning foursomes, Woods and partner Steve Stricker returned to duty in the afternoon fourballs.
But a one-up loss to Spaniard Sergio Garcia and Briton Luke Donald left them as the only members of the 12-man American squad not to contribute a point to the U.S. cause.
As a Ryder Cup party erupted around him, Woods had the forlorn look of someone who had been left off the guest list, standing alone in the twilight with his eyes closed and hands clasped above his head absorbing yet another defeat.
”I’ve played well the last two afternoons and didn’t get a point,“ Woods told reporters after watching his Ryder Cup record dip to 13-17-2. ”It’s tough.
“Yesterday I made a bunch of birdies and today I made five on the back nine and it just wasn’t enough. Feeling good about my game but just unfortunately haven’t got a point.”
Woods said he supported Love’s decision to sit him down for the morning matches but the break did little to energize the former-world number one as he and Stricker watched Garcia and Donald race to a four-up lead in the fourballs.
Appearing down-and-out, Woods suddenly sprung to life at the turn after missing a four-foot par putt, throwing himself into a back nine charge that featured five birdies, only to come up agonizingly short.
He birdied the 16th hole to cut the margin to one-up with two holes to play then hit his tee shot on the par-3 17th to within four feet of the hole.
He made the birdie but his momentum was halted when Donald got his tee shot even closer and also made birdie to halve the hole then Woods and Stricker both missed birdie putts on the last that would have earned them half a point.
“We fought hard, unfortunately it just wasn’t enough,” Woods said.
“Strick’s made a huge birdie at 12. We gave ourselves two good looks on 18 and didn’t get it done.”
Despite his woes, Woods will get a final chance to earn a point in Sunday’s singles. While Woods has fallen flat in the team events, he remains an imposing opponent in head-to-head competition with a record of 4-1-1 in Ryder Cup play.
And the former world number one is still looming as a winner with the Americans holding a commanding 10-6 advantage at the end of the second day.
“Being up four is nice,” offered Woods. “We are really looking forward to going out there and hopefully... we are in a great spot right now to win the Cup.” (Editing by Julian Linden)