Tiger Woods wants to play Ryder Cup

Updated: August 11, 2010, 2:35 PM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- Tiger Woods on Tuesday said he wants to be part of the U.S. Ryder Cup team in Wales and would accept a captain's invitation if asked by Corey Pavin.

The two have yet to speak this week at Whistling Straits, site of the PGA Championship that begins Thursday, but Woods said he hopes such a conversation is not necessary.

"Haven't seen him and hopefully I won't be a pick," Woods said during a news conference. "I would like to be able to play myself onto that team."

According to a report by the Golf Channel, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin told contributor Jim Gray Tuesday in the clubhouse that he would select Woods if Woods doesn't qualify automatically.

"Of course I'm going to [pick him]. He's the best player in the world," Pavin said to Gray, according to the Golf Channel.

On Wednesday, however, Pavin denied making such an assertion.

"Jim Gray has misquoted me re: picking Tiger. I never said such a thing and will not say a thing until 09/07," Pavin said in a tweet.

Pavin, who will name his four captain's picks Sept. 7, is scheduled to have a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Gray said he stands by his report, according to The Golf Channel's website.

Last week, Woods dodged questions about his interest in the Ryder Cup prior to his worst 72-hole event of his professional career at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Woods has fallen to 10th in the U.S. Ryder Cup team standings and only the top eight through this week's PGA Championship automatically qualify for the team that will attempt to retain the Cup against Europe Oct. 1-3 at Celtic Manor.

Because majors are worth double points (two points for every $1,000 earned as opposed to just one point) there is the chance for plenty of volatility in the points chase.

Woods trails Lucas Glover by 243 points -- which means he'd have to earn $122,000 more than the 2009 U.S. Open champion to pass him. But many other players will factor into the final tally.

What was of more interest was the fact that Woods acknowledged he would accept a captain's invitation. Pavin can add four players of his choosing to the team and will do so on Sept. 7.

Woods was asked Sunday at Firestone if he wanted to play in the Ryder Cup and said: "Not playing like this, definitely not, not playing like this. I mean, I wouldn't help the team if I'm playing like this. No one would help the team if they're shooting 18-over par."

Woods' 77 that day equaled his worst final round as a pro and his 298 total was his highest both in score and in relation to par at a place where he had won seven times.

But after a couple days of practice at Whistling Straits, the 14-time major winner appeared in better spirits.

"One of the things I'm excited about the last few days is I made some good progress, and I've got one more day tomorrow," he said.

Woods' caddie, Steve Williams, has been seen holding a club at arm's length just behind the golfer's head as he hits shots on the range and on the course in an effort "to keep my head a little more steady going back," he said. "It's something that I've worked on over the years. I've gotten away from that."

And Woods acknowledged that he asked Orlando-based swing coach Sean Foley to film his swing and provide feedback. Woods has been without a swing coach since Hank Haney stepped away in May. He has been working on his own but admitted that Foley -- or others -- might be a possibility.

"There's also a lot of other coaches out there [that are] a possibility as well, that I've talked to," Woods said. "I wanted to have him take a look at it today on video so I can take a look at it and that's what we did."

Woods has had a rocky return to golf since his self-imposed break to deal with personal issues ended when he played his first tournament at the Masters.

He shot an opening-round 68 at Augusta National and tied for fourth, and the expectation was that with practice and more tournament rounds, Woods would return to the form that saw him win seven times around the world last year and sit atop the world golf rankings for 270 consecutive weeks.

But his only other top 10 was a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open -- "I played nine good holes," he said of the incoming nine during the third round at Pebble Beach -- and he is in danger of posting the first winless season of his career.

"To be honest with you, I thought I would have been here [playing poorly] a little bit sooner, with all that's going on," Woods said. "But somehow I've been able to play a little bit better than I thought for a stretch, and then it finally caught up with me last week."

Woods, who has won the PGA four times, begins play Thursday at 9:20 a.m. ET along with past PGA champions Vijay Singh and Y.E. Yang.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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