A few weeks ago I posted an article about the only coach the USA had in all their competitions was Paul Azinger. Well, now you can add another, Tiger Woods and no one saw this coming.
Woods did a masterful job in righting a ship that could have well gone out of control. Aside from Woods and Justin Thomas the USA side was not very good for the first two sessions. Woods then decides to sit himself for both sessions in Day 3. This move caught most observers off guard. Most figured he would sit one session, but not both. Again, he did the unexpected. Woods has always understood the moment, but more importantly he finds that moment. For me I thought it was the last match of the morning session when Finau and Kucher got a half. If they lose, the score becomes 9.5 to 4.5 in favour of the Internationals. Now, they trail 9.0 to 5.0 heading into the afternoon Foursomes competition, with some momentum. The deficit was cut in half in the afternoon session with the Americans gaining more momentum heading to the final day singles. Enter Patrick Reed.
Reed was a tire fire in the first three sessions, giving little or no support to partner Webb Simpson. His caddie gets into a physical altercation with a fan who had been heckling Reed all day. The caddie is suspended by the PGA Tour for conduct unbecoming, so for the second time in two weeks Reed is the centre of attention and not for something good. This is when the brilliance of Woods really shines in my opinion. He had a crisis on his hands, but he removed the drama from it. First, he knew for sure Reed can play golf, and what can he do as Captain to make that happen. Second, what attitude does he want his team to have and what choices can he make to have that happen. Third, given Woods experiences what can he draw on and what he can draw on now.
To answer question one, he gives Reed the afternoon off to clear his head and find someone to caddie for him. Reed picks his swing coach. Someone Reed has a relationship with and maybe one of the few people Reed trusts. Question two, Woods puts himself out first in the singles matches. If the Internationals wanted to win they had to go through Woods. Els had no answer for him. Woods goes out and wins his match, the deficit is now one and the momentum builds. Third, most of his team grew up on the legend of Woods and I believe he motivated them in a very subtle way that they could now be part of this legend. You have a small opportunity; to be a part of one greats of the game career would you not welcome it? Definitely, a defining moment for the player and his career. Finally, he got Reed to refocus and just play golf. He got him to use his talent to quiet the noise.
I have always admired Wood’s talent, but really never cared much for his demeanour. However, after reading Wright Thompson’s book I got a better understanding of just how intelligent Woods is, and gained some insight into him.
However, one question still remains and it is for Ryder Cup Captain Steve Stricker. What did you learn from this and what will you do differently because the Europeans have a much deeper talent pool than the International team and the emotional temperature will be much higher.
Until next time.
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