Golf: Tiger needs to get back on course

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 28, 2011

By Ray McNulty
Scripps Howard News Service
The big golf news this week came out of Jupiter Island, where Tiger Woods announced on his website that he might add another PGA Tour event to his 2011 schedule.
“Right now,” he said, “I’m looking at my options.”
He has four — all of them part of the Fall Series, a quartet of off-Broadway tournaments played mostly by journeymen struggling to get inside the top 125 on the money list and earn their Tour cards for the following season.
He can go to Las Vegas (Sept. 29), or San Jose, Calif. (Oct. 6), or St. Simons Island, Ga. (Oct. 13), or Disney World (Oct. 20).
Those are Woods’ options, if he wants to play another Tour event this year. And he should.
He needs to.
Staggering through a season in which he was sidelined by leg injuries, his game undermined by another unnecessary swing change, Woods failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which tee off Thursday in New Jersey and conclude Sept. 25 at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
So he isn’t eligible for any Tour events until the oft-forgotten Fall Series, which begins Sept. 29.
Nor did Woods qualify for the Presidents Cup team that will travel to Australia in November.
And, really, that’s what this is all about.
That’s the reason — the only reason — Woods is giving serious thought to adding a tournament.
“Hopefully, I’ll get picked for the Presidents Cup team,” Woods said. “I’ve had some conversations with U.S. captain Fred Couples, and we’ll see how it goes. Of course, I want to be on the team.”
Couples said Woods is a lock to be on the 12-man team that will compete against the Internationals Nov. 17-20 at Royal Melbourne. But Couples added a caveat last week: “He can’t just show up the week before in Australia. There’s quite a few tournaments after the Tour Championship.”
There are four, exactly. And Couples made it clear he wants Woods, already entered in the Australian Open the week before the Presidents Cup, to play at least one of them.
It doesn’t matter how well he plays. In fact, Couples must make his two captain’s picks Sept. 26 — before Woods could play in any Fall Series event.
But Couples wants to see Woods back on the course, hitting meaningful shots, competing.
“I just don’t know how he can sit there and think his game is going to improve,” Couples said.
At last look, Woods’ game was a mess.
He hasn’t won anywhere in nearly two years. He missed the cut by seven strokes at the PGA Championship two weeks ago. His world ranking has fallen to No. 36, its lowest since November 1996.
“It’s Freddie’s call,” Woods said, “and he can make any choice he wants.”
Actually, it’s Woods’ call. And he can make any choice he wants.
He’s got four of them.