MILWAUKEE // Tiger Woods remained No 1 in the world rankings this week, though not even close to that on two lists that matter much more at the moment - the Ryder Cup and FedEx Cup. Woods failed to qualify for the US Ryder Cup team for the first time - he had led the standings every other time since 1997 - and now will only make the team if Corey Pavin, the US captain, uses one of four wild-card picks on him.
In a hotel conference room on Monday, Pavin sat at the head table between two poster boards, each showing the final standings for the eight American qualifiers. Woods' name was nowhere to be found between Phil Mickelson at No 1 and Matt Kuchar at No 8. Pavin would only say that Woods is "high on my list" and will be a "big consideration" when he announces his selections on September 7. "I'm looking at him in essence like any other player. He isn't ... but he is," Pavin said. "I'm certainly not going to disrespect other players by considering him different from other players. I have to look at the way he's playing, the way he played, and I have to look at his body of work as well. If anyone can turn it around quickly, it's him."
Despite the shockingly low ratings for Woods' name, Pavin came away from the PGA Championship encouraged as much by what he heard from Woods as what he saw from him. Woods said at the start of the week that he wants to play in the Ryder Cup and would accept a captain's pick. Even after he closed with a one-over 73 to tie for 28th at Whistling Straits, he joked that he could still help out in singles. His Ryder Cup record is 10-13-2, including 3-1-2 in singles.
"I feel my game is a lot better than it was obviously last week, and given a little bit more time, it's starting to head in the right direction now, which is good," Woods said. "And I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully, Corey will pick me on the team." Woods tied for fourth in the Masters and US Open. He missed the cut at Quail Hollow with the highest 36-hole total of his career, and only a week before the final major, he had the worst tournament of his career when he shot 18-over par at Firestone.
Pavin was asked about the pros and cons of taking Woods, and he could think only of the positives. "He's the No 1 player in the world - that's a pretty good 'pro'," Pavin said. "Obviously, I'm considering him highly, no doubt about it. He's playing better. I think we have all seen that. And he wants to play - he wants to be part of the team. But it's going to be my judgement whether I pick him or not."
Mickelson led the points table for the first time followed by Hunter Mahan, PGA runner-up Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Jeff Overton and Matt Kuchar. Four of them - Watson, Johnson, Overton and Kuchar - have never played a Ryder Cup. Stricker and Mahan played the first time two years ago at Valhalla. Overton became the first American to qualify for the Ryder Cup without having won on the PGA Tour. * Agencies
United States (top 8 qualified) 1. Phil Mickelson 6,095 2. Hunter Mahan 4,095 3. Bubba Watson 3,894 4. Jim Furyk 3,763 5. Steve Stricker 3,697 6. Dustin Johnson 3,573 7. Jeff Overton 3,533 8. Matt Kuchar 3,415 9. Anthony Kim 3,274 10. Lucas Glover 3,052 Europe - World Points 1. Lee Westwood (Eng) 422.01 2. Rory McIlroy (NIr) 316.95 3. Martin Kaymer (Ger) 285.42 4. Graeme McDowell (NIr) 249.35 5. Luke Donald (Eng) 231.16 6. Edoardo Molinari (Ita) 218.41 7. Ian Poulter (Eng) 211.24 8. Padraig Harrington (Irl) 204.97 9. Justin Rose (Eng) 195.74 10. Francesco Molinari (Ita) 172.51 European Points 1. Lee Westwood (Eng) 3,446,137 2. Martin Kaymer (Ger) 2,638,282 3. Rory McIlroy (NIr) 2,368,205 4. Graeme McDowell (NIr) 2,307,041 5. Ian Poulter (Eng) 2,238,874 6. Ross Fisher (Eng) 1,708,614 7. Francesco Molinari (Ita) 1,612,747 8. Miguel Angel Jimenez (Esp) 1,499,775 9. Paul Casey (Eng) 1,487,776 10. Padraig Harrington (Irl) 1,486,529