KOHLER, Wis., Sept.21 (Reuters) – Tiger Woods is not expected to attend this week’s Ryder Cup as he continues to recover from his February car crash, but his presence will be felt by the U.S. Whistling Straits, Justin Thomas said on Tuesday. .
Thomas has met Woods a few times over the past week and although their conversations have been primarily focused on his health, the seven-time Ryder Cup veteran remains an enthusiastic supporter of the team.
“He’s so into it,” Thomas told reporters.
“He obviously wants the best for our team. He wants the best for all of us. It means a lot to him.”
Thomas was part of the US team led by Woods who came from behind to defeat a team of internationals in the Presidents Cup 2019 at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club.
The 15-time major champion eagerly congratulated his teammates after the winning putt fell, making it clear he was relishing the opportunity to be part of a squad.
“You all saw in Australia how much that meant to him,” Thomas said.
“The amount of work and the number of hours he’s willing to put in to make sure he feels like the team is prepared and as ready to go as possible is pretty cool.”
But he said Woods, who was selected as vice-captain before being sidelined by his ongoing rehab, also understands there is no need to micro-manage the U.S. team, which has an average world ranking of nine compared to 30 for Europe.
“At the end of the day, he also understands that we are 12 of the best players in the world and we know how to play golf,” Thomas said.
“Sometimes less is more, so I think he’s good at balancing that. It was more, ‘I’m here if you need me’, kind of thing.”
US captain Steve Stricker has said that while Woods will be absent from the action, he is still very involved.
“He’s been in my ear a lot and I call him quite regularly,” Stricker said Monday.
“He’s a part of our Ryder Cup team. He’s a part of what we do. He’s been a part of so many of these teams. So to bounce off him, all of us players alike, I know some see him,” he said.
“But I think now is just not the right time for him to be here physically because of his rehabilitation and his difficult course to walk.”
The Ryder Cup, which was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, begins on Friday.
Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles Editing by Toby Davis
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